Out with the old, in with the new: Goodlatte introduces Ag Guestworker Act
The new act could help address the pork industry’s labor shortage
By Kaitlynn Anderson
A new bill, proposed by Bob Goodlatte, a congressman and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is intended to help producers fill job positions and keep workers on their operations.
The U.S. government introduced the Agricultural Guestworker (AG) Act last week, which — if passed — would replace the H-2A guestworker program, according to a release.
The new bill will allow producers to access “a legal, stable supply of workers, both in the short- and long-term,” according to a summary by the Judiciary Committee.
If the government enacts the bill, producers would be able to hire workers for both seasonal and year-round work.
The previous H-2A program presented many difficulties and placed some farmers at a competitive disadvantage, according to the summary.
However, the revised program under the AG Act would change that situation.
The AG Act “is designed to meet the needs of the diverse agriculture industry when not enough American workers can be found,” Goodlatte said in the release.
“The new program is to be operated by the USDA, an agency that clearly understands the unique needs of America’s farm and ranch operations and the importance of getting perishable agricultural commodities to the marketplace in an efficient manner.”
And, according to its leadership, the pork industry would benefit from this new Act, as the industry faces a labor shortage.
“The U.S. pork industry needs a viable agriculture workforce to remain globally competitive,” Ken Maschhoff, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in a release.
“The current visa programs are not working for pork producers or for the broader agriculture community. The (AG Act) will rectify this.”
Farms.com has reached out to an ag economist for comment.
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