440 U.S. farm groups signed the letter
In a letter to the american senatethe Agriculture Workforce Coalition, made up of 440 U.S. farmer groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, has called for passage of a farm labor reform bill.
“Food security is national security,” the letter said. “America’s farmers and consumers need the U.S. Senate to pass farm worker visa reform this year.”
The letter cited challenges faced by farmers in recent years, including COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, coupled with a severe farm labor crisis.
“The domestic labor shortage remains one of the greatest challenges facing our farmers today,” the letter states. “We must address this labor crisis threatening farms across the United States so that our producers can continue to feed, clothe and power our nation.”
The signatories of the letter referenced a 2022 study by Texas A&M International University, which cited the impacts of an unstable farm labor force on the economy, as well as food prices.
Consumers see the high costs of milk, produce, fruit, meat and eggs in supermarkets. The latest Consumer Price Index report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that butter and margarine rose 26.3%, fruits and vegetables 8.1% and grains and produce bakery by 13.8%.
“We also know that inaction will leave many farmers wondering if they can continue in labour-intensive agriculture,” the letter continues. “Unfortunately, we have already seen a decline in the number of farms over the last decade (2010-2021).
The decline of farms is not new. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the number of farms in the United States has decreased by more than 185,000 farms and the total area of farms has decreased by approximately 25 million acres.
“When farms go out of business, rural America suffers. We know statistically that each seasonal worker supports three to four full-time, year-round jobs,” the letter says. “The economic impact extends further to truck and equipment dealerships, restaurants and other main street businesses. To protect America’s domestic agricultural production, the Senate must act now to ensure stability for our workers. and make key reforms to H-2A, the visa program farmers use to hire legal workers to supplement their U.S. workforce.”