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Agricultural Labor Working Group Final Report Details Solutions to Ease Farm Workforce Crisis

WASHINGTON, DC - This week, the House Agriculture Committee’s Agricultural Labor Working Group released their final report detailing twenty-one policy recommendations to ease the workforce crisis impacting the agriculture industry across the country.

As a member of the Working Group, Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07) participated in a series of roundtables over the past nine months with stakeholders, employers, and workers.  During these roundtables, members worked to identify and address the complexities and burdens facing the nation's farmers as they struggle with the costs and other barriers to getting legal labor using the only guest-worker visa program available to them known as the H-2A program.  The report includes points of bipartisan consensus to address the shortfalls of the H-2A program and encourages Congress to quickly act on the recommendations made by the Working Group.

"This report details the unique workforce issues faced by farm families across the country," said Congressman Rouzer.  “The H-2A program has become a bureaucratic quagmire of high-cost requirements, including exponential increases in wage rates, paperwork, and overly burdensome rules.  The policy recommendations adopted by the Working Group send a strong message to the committees of jurisdiction and Congress as a whole.  We must bring much-needed reform to this program so our producers will be able to continue feeding America and the world."

“North Carolina Farm Bureau appreciates the initiative shown by the House Agriculture Committee to establish the Agriculture Labor Working Group and the group’s insightful and effective recommendations, which demonstrate their strong understanding of the importance of a workable, affordable H-2A program for farmers in North Carolina and across the U.S.,” said North Carolina Farm Bureau President Shawn Harding. “We commend Rep. David Rouzer for his leadership in building a bipartisan consensus to improve this vital program. We are particularly pleased that the recommendations address farmers’ urgent need for a stable Adverse Effect Wage Rate."

Findings and policy recommendations highlighted in the report include:

  • Expedited Review of Delayed H-2A Worker Applications: The Working Group recommends language requiring United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate H-2A petitions within 30 days, ensuring employers and employees timely access to work.

  • Recognizing the need for Wage Reform of the H-2A Program: The Working Group made multiple recommendations to reform the H-2A wage system so the system better reflects real world wages, including a cap on increases or holding wages flat.  This has the added benefit of providing more certainty for producers and their bankers.
  • Granting Year-Round Industries Access to the H-2A program: The Working Group recommends the committee of jurisdiction reform the H-2A program to include all agricultural or labor services involving the initial preparation, processing, or manufacturing of agricultural commodities that require processing before going to consumers.

The final report can be found on the House Committee on Agriculture's website.