AG Act offers expansion of agriculture worker program | Michigan Farm News

AG Act offers expansion of agriculture worker program

Category: Politics

by Farm News Media

0302_farmnews_milking

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is calling on all members of Congress to support House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in his goal of including the Agricultural Guestworker (AG) Act in the Securing America’s Future Act.

“We are at a crisis point in agriculture,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Chairman Bob Goodlatte wants to address our problem and has included the AG Act in pending legislation related to the DACA issue. Chairman Goodlatte’s AG Act would establish a new H-2C agriculture worker program that is far superior to the existing H-2A program. The new H-2C program offers a much brighter future for agriculture. For farmers in sectors like dairy, livestock, mushrooms and other year round enterprisess, who are excluded from H-2A and have nowhere else to turn, the H-2C program offers a path forward in meeting their future labor needs.

“At the same time, we are continuing to work with Chairman Goodlatte and other members of Congress to provide greater assurances on how the AG Act would affect our existing workforce. Farmers today rely on these workers. They sustain our farms. They are part of the fabric of many rural economies. Farm Bureau policy supports providing these workers the opportunity to earn permanent legal status. That is our goal and we will do everything we can to achieve it.”

Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) is pleased with the move to include the AG Act in the Securing America’s Future Act.

“Farmers have been faced with an ever-decreasing pool of willing, able and eligibleable workfersorce for decades”, said John Kran, National Legislation Counsel, Michigan Farm Bureau. “Recent discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives is the first time in several years Congress has had a meaningful conversation on addressing the labor challenges in agriculture. In addition to broadening the scope of availability, the bill also creates a more streamlined visa program and would move program oversight to USDA.

“The problem is not new. We see the climate today as the prefect opportunity for Congress and the President to work together on a solution that addresses agriculture’s unique needs.”

Caleb Herrygers, President of Oceana County Farm Bureau grows asparagus, tart cherries and apples in Oceana County, and favors Goodlatte’s AG Act.

“In our business migrant labor is one of the biggest issues we face,” said Herrygers. “Having a suitable guestworker program is really a key to growth, not only on my own farm, but for the industry as a whole in Michigan. As a 26 year old looking at the future, I see the potential for growth, but it’s almost being held back not having a viable guestworker program. If we were to get one, it’s one less barrier.”