AFBF Calling for Action on Labor Reform

The American Farm Bureau sent a letter to USDA and the Department of Labor on the significant shortage of help on U.S. farms and ranches.

John Walt Boatright, director of government affairs with AFBF, talks about the steps agencies could take to lessen the burden. He says, “The first is USDA has a purview over the farm labor survey, which determines the wage rates for the H2A Program. We asked them to really reevaluate and look at the farm labor survey to make improvements in those areas. And then the second major thing that we asked for from the Department of Labor is a willingness and an interest to really engage with farmers and ranchers and understand the challenges that they’re faced with.”

In addition to the specific goals outlined in the letter, Boatright says there is a more general purpose to engaging with DOL and USDA. He says, “The real goal is also to continue a productive and meaningful conversation, to recognize these challenges, admit that there needs to be action taken, and how do we as a group of people try to improve the situation, from policymakers within their agencies to the industry really looking at solving this problem? So, our goal really is to continue to engage in a thoughtful dialogue about these issues.”

Boatright says unfortunately, the conversation around labor reform is at a stalemate.

He says, “Nothing of late pertaining specifically to agricultural labor. The frustrating part is that we continue to hear the outcry from farm country that these issues need to be addressed, and unfortunately, there seems to be little action taking place. So, we’re hopeful that this type of engagement will help jump-start some of those conversations.”