Congress is taking steps to address the labor crisis facing farmers and ranchers. The House Judiciary Committee has approved the "Farm Workforce Modernization Act".
It includes reforms to the H-2A guest worker program and creates a merit-based visa program. The bill now moves to the full house for consideration. It comes on the heels of USDA releasing a new farm labor report.
“What farmers and ranchers will tell you though is that finding labor has been increasingly difficult for several decades,” said Veronica Nigh, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Even during the economic downturn, farmers were having trouble sourcing labor. Certainly, a tight labor situation only exacerbates that problem.”
The report shows hiring is up three percent over October of last year, which 809,000 employees hired directly by farm operators. The average wage is $15.02. That’s up four percent from last year.
American Farm Bureau Federation economists say the low unemployment levels in the U-S make finding farm labor more difficult. However, hiring good labor has been a challenge for a long time.