Farm coalition urges US senate to pass workforce reform bill

440 US farm groups signed the letter
calendar icon 5 August 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

In a letter to the US senate, the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, made up of 440 US farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, urged the passing of an agriculture workforce reform bill.

"Food security is national security," said the letter. "American farmers and consumers need the US Senate to pass farmworker visa reform this year."

The letter cited challenges faced by farmers in recent years, including COVID-19 and war in Ukraine, coupled with a serious agricultural workforce crisis.

"The domestic workforce shortage remains one of the greatest challenges impacting our farmers today," the letter said. "We must address this workforce crisis threatening farms across the United States so our producers can continue to feed, clothe, and fuel our nation."

The letter's signees pointed to a 2022 study by Texas A&M International University, which cited the impacts of an unstable agricultural workforce on the economy, as well as on food prices.

Consumers are seeing high costs of milk, produce, fruits, meat, and eggs in the supermarket. The latest Consumer Price Index report by the Bureau of Labour and Statistics revealed that butter and margarine increased 26.3%, fruits and vegetables rose 8.1%, and cereals and bakery products rose 13.8%.

"We also know that inaction will force many farmers to consider whether they can continue in labour-intensive agriculture," the letter continued. "Unfortunately, we have already seen a decline in the number of farms over the last decade (2010-2021)."

Farm decline is not new. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) at the US Department of Agriculture, the number of farms in the US has decreased by more than 185,000 farms and the total land in farms has decreased by around 25 million acres.

"When farms go out of business rural America suffers. We know statistically that every seasonal worker supports three to four full-time year-round jobs," the letter said. "The economic impact reaches further to truck and equipment dealerships, restaurants, and the other businesses on main street. In order to protect America’s domestic agricultural production, the Senate must act now to provide stability for our existing workers and make key reforms to the H-2A program, the visa program farmers use to hire legal workers to supplement their US workforce."

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