House committee reviews farm labor needs

The House Committee on Agriculture recently heard from agricultural organizations and farmers concerned with the growing shortage of farm labor in the United States.

As a labor-intensive industry, agriculture relies heavily on seasonal workers to produce and harvest a wide variety of products. Agriculture employs more than 3 million people every year in this country, and the need for an adequate agriculture labor force is a serious concern for producers.

"I've traveled across this country, and no matter where I am, labor is one of the top concerns I hear from farmers and ranchers," Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said. "Before we can find a meaningful solution to address the labor crisis we face, Congress must understand the scope and depth of this problem across many industries, agriculture included. If we don't have enough farm laborers, the great bounty of American agriculture will wither on the vine, so this issue cannot go unresolved."

"The agriculture industry needs reliable farm labor. Workers need access to stable, legal, temporary employment. It is in our nation's interest to create a sensible way for workers to come in on a temporary basis, fill empty jobs, and go back to their home countries. It is possible to simultaneously streamline the guest worker program, reduce illegal immigration, and protect our borders," said Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte.

Witness testimony is available on the Committee website: A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee Web site in 4-6 weeks.

Witness List

Panel I

• James Holt, James S. Holt & Co., LLC, Washington, D.C.

• Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C.

• Bruce Goldstein, executive director, Farmworker Justice, Washington, D.C.

• Lee Wicker, deputy director, North Carolina Growers Association, Vass, N.C.

• Scott Herring, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, Farm Credit of Western New York, ACA, Batavia, N.Y.

• Mike Brown, senior vice-president for Legislative Affairs, American Meat Institute, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

• J Allen Carnes, president, Winter Garden Produce, vice-president, Carnes Farms, Inc., and Chair, Texas Vegetable Association, Uvalde, Texas.

• Mason G. Smoak, citrus producer and cattle rancher, Lake Placid, Fla.

• Harry B. Yates, board member, National Christmas Tree Association, and Christmas tree producer, Boone, N.C.

• Randy Mouw, Misty Morning Dairy, Ontario, Calif.

• Keith Atkinson, tobacco producer, Java, Va.

• Rick Roth, specialty crops producer/packer, Roth Farms, Inc., Belle Glade, Fla.

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