AFBF: Farm labor market is tightening

We have been hearing so much right now about a labor shortage.

Farmers have been sounding the alarm for a decade, and as RFD-TV’s Marlin Bohling reports, new data shows the situation is only getting worse.

Recent H2A data shows just how tight the farm labor market really is.

“In the second quarter of the fiscal year 2022, which is January through March, the number of applications for H2A workers, which is the Temporary Ag Worker Visa Program, increased by more than 17 percent, year over year. The number of certified positions increased even more: it was up by 21 percent.”

Victoria Nigh is a Senior Economist with the American Farm Bureau and a frequent guest on Market Day Report. She says another reason farmers are having a tough time is that unemployment in rural America is fairly low. She gives an example of Nebraska, with an unemployment rate of less than two percent.

“So those farmers who are already having trouble getting workers out to their farms for long hours and hot weather and oftentimes difficult work, are finding it even more difficult because of an already-tight labor market.”

Nigh says in the past, it was more of an ag production problem, but since the pandemic, the shortage has spread throughout the supply chain.

“So, trucking companies are having trouble finding workers, ag processors are having trouble finding workers, and rural areas, at large, are struggling to find workers. So, certainly, it’s been an issue in agriculture for a long time, but it certainly seems to be compounding and growing as time continues.”

The House passed the Farm Modernization Act more than a year ago. It would reform the H2A visa system in an effort to attract more workers, but the measure has gone nowhere in the Senate.


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