Recently, we’ve been hearing comments from Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue on a variety of topics…questions posed to him in a candid forum with ag broadcasters recently. Today, the Ag Secretary addresses the subject of immigration reform, and the need of a legal workforce for the farming community:
“Trade, labor and regulations are what we hear the most on, and we’re working on those every day.
“You may know, and if you’re keeping up with it, Chairman Goodlatte and the Judiciary Committee in the House introduced a bill, frankly, it was much better in its first draft, and it got eroded away based on his committee. Afterwards, it’s going to be a tough sled with all the DACA conversation and everything else.
“But, I’ll tell you this; I’m persuaded the president understands that we need, legal ag workforce in America. And he also understands that we’re either going to import our workers or import our food, from diary, and harvesting and everything else. The H2A worker program has been very cumbersome and very problematic in a lot of areas. I was in California, particularly there.
“The sad part of the Goodlatte bill that was taken out, was the transition for those workers that have been in place for a while, there is no longer a provision for them. That’s a problem. We hope it goes to the Senate it can get wrapped up into a comprehensive program that would really be beneficial for farmers.
“Right now, farmers are fairly ambivalent about the rules, or about the situation of H2C that came out of committee. But, frankly, the chairman understood that in his committee he had to bail some things to get it out of committee, that’s the process. And I had worked in the White House, to get, I think, the White House on board with many of those provisions.
“Most people don’t think the cap is realistic, but it’s a start towards a legal workforce, and I think that’s a good thing. Chairman Goodlatte is committed, he’s got a very difficult committee, and got the bill there, hopefully will get it on the House floor, have some amendments, get it to the Senate, and do some things there and get a legal workforce.
“I’ve a young lady lawyer from Nebraska, got her from Farm Bureau, had been working in this area, and she’s been working day by day with members of congress and all the stakeholders there, too.
“I’m very hopeful, that’s very important, for not only the diary industry which the H2A program doesn’t work for, but many others of the smaller producers, where you have to hire an HR person for 10 or 15 people, and that just doesn’t compute.”
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue