At the first of 2012 American Farm Bureau Federation put together a consortium of ten states representing areas of the country with different labor needs to address immigration reform and the migrant worker situation as it pertains to agriculture. North Carolina Farm Bureau’s assistant to the president Peter Daniel represented the southeastern states in the group:
“California, Washington, Arizona, Michigan, Florida, New York and North Carolina were all part of it. If what is decided will work in all of these states where the needs and agriculture are so different, it will work everywhere.”
The diverse group of states put together a framework to present to congress to address the need for migrant labor for agriculture according to Daniel:
“We feel really good that the framework that we’ve developed can be well received in congress and by the other partners nationwide. American Farm Bureau is working with those external farm bureau groups to develop a broad consensus throughout all of agriculture, all farming, that will be working together for this one goal.”
Daniel explains that the group didn’t dismiss or overhaul the current H2A program, but addresses another set of needs:
“We made the informed decision that there are farmers the H2A program works for. This does not address the H2A program, this a new visa program that works not just for seasonal, but for the broader year round needs of the entire industry. Agriculture’s labor needs are so much broader than what one thinks of traditional migrant labor.”
We’ll hear more from NC Farm Bureau’s Peter Daniel on migrant worker reform tomorrow on Today’s Topic.