On April 3, 2019, GFVGA Board Member Bill Brim Testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. Brim's testimony addressed the labor crisis facing agriculture.
"Labor intensive agriculture in the United States is on its way to becoming an endangered species because bad government policy makes it nearly impossible for us to compete in the international marketplace," Brim said in the hearing. "And so each year more and more farmers quit growing fruits and vegetables or move their operations outside the United States."
Brim touched on the current problems with the H-2A program and called for the following elements to be part of a reformed agricultural guestworker program to meet our labor needs:
A revised guestworker program must be open to all sectors of agriculture, including dairy farms, farms that operate year-round, as well as growers that harvest, process and pack their product on the farm.
No visa cap
A reformed guestworker program must permit farmers to apply closer to their date of need and permit them to amend their applications in response to market demands after the application has been submitted. A reformed program should also make it easier for workers to transfer among employers and seek out additional work if they choose, after completing their prior work obligation. Workers who have participated in the program for a number of years should also be provided expedited visa approval through a “pre-check” type system that would avoid long lines and extra work year after year at the consulate.
A reformed guestworker program must provide an efficient way for workplace issues to be resolved. Farmworkers should have a venue to have their concerns addressed -and resolved quickly without time-consuming and expensive litigation.
A reformed guestworker program must have a wage methodology that makes sense for growers and workers, and that is transparent and predictable so that farmers can plan and properly budget from one year to the next.
A future guestworker program must take a new approach to housing and provide more flexibility for growers and workers.