Ag Labor & Workforce Needs
The agricultural community is dependent on a sustainable workforce now more than ever. Every farm worker engaged in high-value labor intensive crop and livestock production sustains an average of two to three off-farm jobs. With the added burden of a global pandemic, employers and employees are strained even further.
- Support the establishment of a comprehensive immigration reform policy that provides for a new, usable ag guest worker visa program with a reliable verification system, secures the borders, and provides current farm workers the opportunity to apply for legal status through the sponsorship of an eligible ag employer.
- ARA urges Congress to support the DRIVE-Safe Act and move the bill for quick enactment as a bipartisan proposal to help fill desperately needed jobs while providing younger Americans with the chance to get the training they need.
Ag Visa Reform
The current H-2A ag guest worker visa program is broken and only available for part of the agricultural industry. Additionally, agriculture needs the H-2A program to be more flexible because it currently requires the cooperation of multiple federal agencies which can complicate the program even further.
In some industry areas, the H-2A visa program is the only guest worker program currently available and serves as the only means to a dependable workforce. However, the H-2A visa program only allows for temporary or seasonal workers. In other areas of the industry, there is no access to H-2A visas or any workforce due to the year-round nature of the job at hand.
ARA is a member of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) which brings together organizations representing the diverse needs of agricultural employers across the country. AWC serves as the unified voice of agriculture in the effort to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers and growers have access to a stable and secure workforce now and in the future.
According to a recent estimate, the nation needs an additional 50,000 truck drivers immediately – a shortage that is expected to grow to more than 174,000 by 2026. In many supply chains, companies are being forced to increase prices to account for higher transportation costs, ultimately resulting in higher prices for consumers on everything from electronics to food.
The DRIVE-Safe Act would create a two-step apprenticeship program to allow younger drivers to enter the industry safely. Candidates would be accompanied in the cab by experienced drivers for a total of 400 hours of on-duty time with at least 240 hours of driving time. Trucks would be required to be outfitted with the latest safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less and automatic or automatic manual transmissions. The DRIVE-Safe Act will help our nation’s freight continue to move while preserving the safety of our highway system.
Questions? Send questions to the ARA policy team of experts via the DC Help Desk.