Ag leaders call on Congress for swift action to bolster agricultural labor market

An attempt to fill 5,800 positions came back with dismal domestic interest
Hidden Valley Organic Dairy Farm in Paul Idaho.
Hidden Valley Organic Dairy Farm in Paul Idaho.(KMVT)
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 4:54 PM MDT
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WASHINGTON D.C., Virginia (KMVT/KSVT) — Wednesday morning, leaders from the U.S. agriculture industry called for action in the United States Senate to bolster the country’s migrant labor force.

“(We) need to now help agriculture production here on our soil so we don’t offshore it,” said Joel Anderson, the Executive Director of the Snake River Farmer’s Association.

Those on the call say outdated, Reagan-era, migrant worker policy is creating hurdles for farms attempting to hire seasonal foreign labor, and the impacts are hitting all Americans.

“Record-high food prices and workforce shortages prove the need for a strong and more reliable workforce that can deliver certainty and stability for American businesses,” said Daniel Garza, President of the Libre Initiative.

In Idaho, the Snake River Farmers Association says challenges presented by labor shortages impact Gem State farming fixtures.

“Each year, our organization sees the end of generational farms. It’s tragic,” said Anderson.

An attempt to fill 5,800 Idaho positions came back with dismal domestic interest.

“Of those 5,800 positions, only 26 domestic workers have applied, 26 to fill those positions,” said Anderson. “And today, only four, four U.S. workers have accepted employment to fill those 5,800 jobs.”

The group calls for action, specifically on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021, which in March of last year was passed through the House by a vote of 247-174.

They say the Senate needs to take action.

“We want to make sure we encourage our elected leadership to persist to work out a solution where farmers come out winning, where laborers come out winning and America is made stronger,” said Garza.

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