AFBF Sees A Positive Sign For H-2A Visa Reform

The American Farm Bureau Federation believes that long-term workforce stability will come through a more streamlined and flexible H-2A visa program.

AFBF is arguing for workers to be allowed to continue with an employer for as long as the employer has a need – up to three years. This allows farmers with year-round labor needs, such as dairy farms, to use the program and avoid disrupting their essential business operations.

Agricultural labor is the single most restricting factor in American farming today, says AFBF Policy Director Sam Kieffer.

Farms need specialized but physical labor, and Americans just don’t want to do that,” he says. “The bulk of Americans are just disinterested, in many cases regardless of the wage rate, to work on a farm.”

Many industries, including dairy, have turned to using foreign hands through the H-2A program, but the program has challenges, Kieffer says.

There are signs that Congress will work on improving farm worker policies. This is after decades of general disinterest. The House Agriculture Committee leaders appointed a bipartisan working group. Half “red”, half “blue”, to make recommendations on guest worker policies.

AFBF says the good news for Wisconsin is that the committee recommended the seasonal H-2A program allows for year-round labor.

“Dairy is not a 10-month program. Dairy is year round,” Kieffer says.