WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Agriculture announced the formation of a bipartisan working group to focus on workforce challenges facing US producers.
“The Committee on Agriculture has heard loud and clear from producers across the nation that one of the biggest challenges confronting the agriculture industry is a lack of reliable labor,” said Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member David Scott (D-Ga.) in a joint statement. “Though not directly in our committee’s jurisdiction, we have a responsibility to be a voice in Congress on the issues and policies impacting farmers and ranchers. This is a complex problem that deserves the focused attention of the members who hear from producers every day rather than the partisan grandstanding that has plagued these efforts in the past.”
The main objectives of the Agricultural Labor Working Group are to seek the industry’s input on the H-2A visa program for nonimmigrant agricultural workers, to create an interim report for the program’s impact of food security, and to file a final report recommending best practices for correcting the program’s shortcomings. Future legislative efforts will refer to solutions provided in the final report.
Congressmen Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and Don Davis (D-NC) were appointed co-chairs of the working group.
“A robust agriculture industry starts with a strong and healthy workforce,” Representative Crawford said. “However, due to a labor shortage, American farmers are increasingly turning to overseas workers to fill positions on the farm. Unfortunately, this is not an easy process because our visa policies and regulations have become convoluted and burdensome. Reforms are desperately needed to address this pressing issue. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find commonsense solutions that help our farmers and producers better staff the farm to help feed and clothe the world.”
Additional members of the working group include the following lawmakers who were chosen to represent the range of geographical regions in US agriculture: