Farm Progress

House Ag Committee announces new labor taskforce

Working group to study H-2A visa program

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

June 21, 2023

2 Min Read
farm labor
JJ Gouin/Getty Images Plus

House Agriculture Committee Chair Glen “GT” Thompson, R- Pa., and Ranking Member David Scott, D- Ga., announced they have formed a new bipartisan working group tasked with addressing labor issues. They say this is a direct response to feedback from multitudes of producers who say the current lack of reliable workers is one of their biggest challenges.

“Though not directly in our committee’s jurisdiction, we have a responsibility to be a voice in Congress on the issues and policies impacting farmers and ranchers,” Thompson and Scott said in a joint statement. “This is a complex problem that deserves the focused attention of the members who hear from producers every day rather than the partisan grandstanding that has plagued these efforts in the past.”

The newly formed Agriculture Labor Working Group will be co-chaired by Reps. Rick Crawford, R- Ark, and Don Davis, D- N.C. It will solicit feedback from various stakeholders on labor issues, particularly the H-2A visa program for nonimmigrant agricultural workers. The working group plans to issue an interim report discussing the visa program’s problems and their impacts on American agriculture. Eventually, the group will issue a final report with recommendations on addressing the H-2A program’s flaws.

Crawford says he is looking forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find commonsense solutions that help farmers and producers.

“A robust agriculture industry starts with a strong and healthy workforce. However, due to a labor shortage, American farmers are increasingly turning to overseas workers to fill positions on the farm,” he says. “Unfortunately, this is not an easy process because our visa policies and regulations have become convoluted and burdensome. Reforms are desperately needed to address this pressing issue.”

Members of the 14-member working group were chosen to represent nearly every sector and region of the agriculture industry. They include Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore., Yadira Caraveo, D- Colo., Monica De La Cruz, R- Texas, Salud Carbajal, D- Calif., Doug LaMalfa, R- Calif., Jim Costa, D- Calif., Nick Langworthy, R- N.Y., Jasmine Crockett, D- Texas, David Rouzer, R- N.C., Darren Soto, D- Fla., Derrick Van Orden, R- Wisc., and Gabe Vasquez, D- N.M.

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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