Labor challenges remain top concern for Ag sector

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives worries ongoing labor shortages will further hurt the ag economy. Two years after the House first passed the H-2A visa program, they are pushing hard for lawmakers to revisit and pass the legislation.

farm workers

Ag workers in the field

The Ag community has faced hurdle after hurdle in recent years but the head of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives says it’s their number one challenge.

It’s been two years since the house passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. It would have expanded the time immigrant workers with H-2A visas could stay and work on U.S. farms. But the senate version of that bill was cut, effectively killing the house bill too. NCFC president Chuck Conner says it failed because agriculture got caught up in the controversy surrounding world events.

“The legislation didn’t fail because of anything of substance. It failed because of the controversy over border issues and the whole immigration space that isn’t particularly targeted at farm labor. We were sort of caught up in all of that, so we’re going to be continuing to look for the opportunity when maybe that controversy is settled down a little bit and it gives us the opportunity to come in and fix this H-2A program,” Conner said.

He’s worried ongoing labor shortages will further hurt the ag economy. He’s pushing hard for lawmakers to revisit and pass legislation to expand the H-2A visa program.

“For all practical purposes, it is the only solution for co-ops and the only solution for farmers going forward,” says Conner. “We have to figure out a way to make it an option going forward if we are to continue to provide the food and fiber for America in the manner which they become quite accustomed to.”

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