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What They Are Saying: Industry Leaders Applaud Bipartisan Ag Working Group’s Final Report

WASHINGTON, DC —Industry leaders and associations are applauding the release of the House Committee on Agriculture’s bipartisan Agriculture Labor Working Group’s final report. The final report is the product of a months-long effort to identify workforce challenges faced by the agriculture industry and propose potential legislative solutions to them.

Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation: “AFBF thanks the Agriculture Labor Working Group for making improvements to the H-2A program a priority when they could have looked the other way. That’s what leadership is all about. We hope this work is followed by action. America’s farmers and ranchers are counting on Congress to address this issue before more farms go under.”

Gregg Doud, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation: “We commend the House Agriculture Committee and its Ag Labor Working Group for forging ahead and reaching agreement on recommendations to make badly needed reforms to our nation’s H-2A agricultural visa program. We are especially grateful for the working group’s unanimous support for allowing dairy farmers and other year-round employers long-sought access to the program. Dairy’s workforce needs remain dire, and we urge Congress to heed the Ag Labor Working Group’s strong recommendation. Again, thanks to the committee and to its leadership, Chairman GT Thompson, R-PA, and Ranking Member David Scott, D-GA, as well as Working Group co-chairs Reps. Rick Crawford, R-AR, and Don Davis, D-NC, for their bipartisan leadership in this important and timely effort.”

Ken Fisher, President and CEO, AmericanHort: “AmericanHort commends the House Agriculture Committee for establishing the Agricultural Labor Working Group and applauds the group’s efforts to improve the availability of labor through programs like H-2A, which has been a critical program for the agriculture and horticulture industries. We encourage the group to continue to advocate for policies that improve the H-2A and H-2B programs, particularly in reforming the Adverse Effect Wage Rate policies and granting year-round industries access to the H-2A program.”

Cathy Burns, CEO, International Fresh Produce Association: “The bipartisan Agricultural Labor Working Group has identified a bipartisan road map to get the relief, particularly wage relief, that the fresh produce and floral industry needs to survive. Congress cannot continue to rely on the undeniable tenacity of the American farmer to figure out a way to survive under the current broken system and must act now to prevent more farms from going out of business.”

The National Council of Agricultural Employers: “The National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) represents over 85% of America’s farm and ranch families who utilize the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program.  NCAE applauds the solid bipartisan work of the Agricultural Labor Working Group and its leadership in advocating for much needed and necessary reform to the H-2A Program.  Timely passage of these proposed reforms by the Committee of Jurisdiction will stem the flight of U.S. food production to our foreign competition and enhance America’s national security.”

Chuck Conner, President and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives: “I would like to commend the Agriculture Labor Working Group for taking a thoughtful, bipartisan approach to looking at the H-2A agricultural visa program and the changes needed to ensure that it can better help America’s farmers, ranchers and growers meet their labor needs. In particular, the recommendations recognize the need to both streamline the current process and make changes to the program to ensure that it is available to all producers, including those with year-round needs, and cooperatives. We believe that these recommendations can provide a solid basis for future legislation to address the broad range of ag labor needs faced by farmers, ranchers and growers across the U.S. and urge Congress to act on such a bill without delay.”

Rob Larew, President, National Farmers Union: “I’d like to thank Chairman Thompson and Ranking Member Scott for coming together to create the bipartisan Agricultural Labor Working Group. NFU is pleased to see that the report includes many policy priorities that we supported, including provisions from the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. I commend the House Agriculture Committee for highlighting how urgently we need reforms to agricultural labor in the U.S.”

Mark Barnett, President, Livestock Marketing Association: “We applaud the hard work of the bipartisan Agriculture Labor Working Group. These efforts have led to common sense policy recommendations, such as removing the seasonality requirement, that would greatly improve the ability of more agriculture businesses and guest workers to benefit from the H-2A visa program.”

Michael Dykes, DVM, President and CEO, International Dairy Foods Association: “The chronic shortage of workers on dairy farms, in manufacturing facilities, and throughout the dairy supply chain has been a problem for decades and continues to hinder our industry’s ability to grow today. Congress can begin to address our workforce challenges by reforming the H-2A program and allowing the entire U.S. dairy supply chain to access a reliable pool of guest-workers. IDFA is grateful to the bipartisan members of the House Committee on Agriculture Labor Working Group for their recognition of the challenges unique to year-round dairy product production, and for championing reforms that would provide tangible workforce solutions for dairy farms, manufacturers, and the entire supply chain.”

The Meat Institute: “The Meat Institute thanks Chairman Thompson for his leadership and Reps. Crawford and Davis for co-chairing the Agricultural Labor Working Group for their attention to the critical issue of agricultural labor.  The Meat Institute appreciates the Working Group’s recognition of the labor needs of the industry sectors providing the initial preparation and processing of agricultural commodities, such as the meat and poultry industry. For the supply chain to operate effectively, all segments must be able to meet their labor needs.”

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