Report includes more than 20 recommendations to streamline program, make labor more affordable for farmers.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

March 11, 2024

2 Min Read
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The House Ag Committee’s bipartisan Agricultural Working Group recently released a long-awaited ag labor report on the H-2A guest worker program that included more than 20 recommendations to streamline the program and make labor more affordable for farmers. One such recommendation was creating a single port for H-2A applications as well as allowing H-2A employers to submit staggered date-of-entry applications. It also advocated for streamlining the current H-2A recruiting and hiring process and expediting reviews of delayed H-2A worker applications.

Other recommendations included creating new heat standards for H-2A workers and adjusting the current wage rates.

In a joint public statement following the report’s release, agriculture Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson and Ranking Member David Scott said they hoped the report would serve as a roadmap to legislative solutions that protect workers and ensure a fair work environment while also addressing the current agriculture labor crisis.

“America’s agriculture industry depends on the availability of a reliable workforce. However, as we have traveled the country, listening to farmers, ranchers, workers, and producers, it’s become abundantly clear that a lack of reliable labor is one of the industry’s greatest challenges. We want to thank Representatives Crawford and Davis for leading the working group, as well as the other members who dedicated their time and energy to this bipartisan effort,” they stated.

Multiple ag organizations praised the committee’s working, including the National Milk Producers Federation, the International Fresh Produce Association, the National Council of Agricultural Employers, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the Livestock Marketing Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, the Meat Institute, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.

“We are losing farms in America at a rapid pace and there is no question that our broken workforce system is partly to blame,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “This report makes it clear, once again, that there is bipartisan agreement on the need to improve the H-2A program to better serve America’s agriculture sector. This working group of the House Agriculture Committee spent months studying and discussing this issue and now delivers important bipartisan solutions for America’s struggling agricultural labor force.”

He continued, “I am grateful to committee leaders for making this a priority when they could have looked the other way. That’s what leadership is all about and I 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.”

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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