NC Farm Bureau Keeping Close Eye on Seasonal Farm Labor Shortage

At North Carolina Farm Bureau, seasonal immigrant farm labor and immigration reform is certainly in the top two or three issues that NCFB is working on. Larry Wooten, President of North Carolina Farm Bureau:

“Agriculture needs labor. Labor is crucial especially in a state like North Carolina. The whole issue of immigration brings in the whole discussion of immigration policy in the United States. This issue of immigration is clearly a federal issue. Certainly we need comprehensive work done in Washington.”  

While the H2A program has been around for a while, it’s cumbersome and expensive. Wooten says that some farmers use H2A workers, some don’t:

“In North Carolina the H2A labor accounts for less than 10% of the agricultural labor in the state. Last year we had a little less than ten thousand H2A workers here. The cry across some parts of the nation that we have mandatory verification. That is a game changer and certainly something that we are looking at.” 

In the meantime, some farmers have chosen to alter their planting plans in order to ease the dependence on seasonal workers:

“I do know some tobacco farmers that for various reasons, labor being one, they chose not to grow tobacco this year. Certainly the need for labor in agriculture is the necessity of that labor at the exact right time is crucial and when that becomes a big question in your operation then you do adapt.”

Some of our east coast neighbors have implemented their own stringent immigration laws, and Wooten says that’s not a stance that Farm Bureau is in favor of:

“Certainly we support that there needs to be some reform of the H2A program. For those users of the H2A program we support that. We certainly do not support a state by state immigration decision here.”

We’ll hear more from NCFB’s president, Larry Wooten tomorrow on Today’s Topic. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.