Trump, Biden discuss ag workers and H2-A program
President Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, each took time to respond to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey on agriculture issues.
Question from the American Farm Bureau Federation:
Farmers and ranchers need a reliable, skilled workforce. Farm work is challenging, often seasonal and transitory, and with fewer and fewer Americans growing up on the farm, it’s increasingly difficult to find American workers attracted to these kinds of jobs. Farm labor can’t all be replaced by machines, either. As president, what would you do to reform and resolve the critical labor shortage that many farmers and ranchers face each year? How would you address the issue of undocumented workers who are already working on farms across America, as well as the need for a reformed H-2A program that would help provide a long-term agricultural workforce?
Trump: President Trump has taken strong actions to deal with the immigration and labor challenges facing our country. The Trump/Pence administration understands the labor shortages facing agriculture and the unique challenges our farmers face.
A strong agricultural labor system depends on being able to know who is coming to our country, President Trump began building the wall shortly after being elected in 2016.
The Trump/Pence Administration has also taken steps to streamline the current H-2A program, including ensuring agriculture can continue to get the farmworkers they need during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Administration worked to ensure common sense flexibilities were deployed to allow H-2A workers to continue working on our farms and moving to new employers that had need of this critical labor.
A Biden Administration is simply interested in giving amnesty to all the people here illegally right now, they will not reform our currently outdated legal immigration system to ensure we have the kind of labor we need to meet the needs of our farmers, ranchers and other employers who need seasonal labor.
As President Trump said at the 100 year anniversary Farm Bureau Convention, “When we have proper security, people aren’t going to come, except for the people we want to come...We’re going to make that actually easier for them--to help the farmers...I’m going to make that easier for them to come in and to work the farms. You’ve had some people for 20, 25 years. They’re incredible. Then they go home and they can’t get back in. That’s not going to happen.”
The Obama-Biden Administration had 8 years and failed to fix our immigration system, and right now Democrats in Congress do not want to negotiate a deal that can be signed because they think it will help them in November. Immigration reform must secure our borders and also ensure our system works for our economy, including making sure farmers have access to the labor they need. The Trump/Pence Administration is eager to work with Congress to finally deal with all these issues, and we think there will be opportunity to do just that in a second term.
Biden: Farm workers have always been essential to working our farms and feeding our country. A Biden-Harris Administration will provide a path to legalization for agricultural workers who have worked for years on U.S. farms and continue to work in agriculture. Securing adequate, seasonal help in the agricultural sector can be inefficient and difficult to navigate, causing people to avoid or exploit the system, even when jobs remain unfilled. We support compromise legislation between farmworkers and the agricultural sector that will provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history, and a faster-track to a green card and ultimately citizenship. And we will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status and ensure labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are enforced with respect to these particularly vulnerable working people.
You can see each candidates answers to other agriculture-related questions below:
Food System Resiliency
Farm Policy Programs
Endangered Species Act
Rural Life and Health
Sustainability and Climate Change