Agriculture Labor Issues
What's the Background?
Current visa programs, listed below, are widely used by U.S. pork producers. However, they are not effectively addressing the labor shortage faced by the
industry and reform is needed to ensure that one of the most competitive U.S. agriculture sectors can continue to provide safe and affordable pork to consumers worldwide.
- H-2A program, which grants foreign nationals entry to the United States for temporary or seasonal agricultural work.
- H-1B program, which allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations, including as veterinarians or farm managers, for a six-year period.
- TN program, which provides expedited authorization for workers from the United States, Canada and Mexico – the visa was created through the North American Free Trade Agreement – employed in specialty jobs, such as breeding managers. Unlike the H-1B program, it allows workers to apply for permanent residence and may be renewed indefinitely.
The recently introduced Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act), H.R. 4092, would create an H-2C program, allowing non-seasonal agriculture workers to remain in the U.S. for up to three years. NPPC supports this first step toward addressing the agriculture labor shortage and continues to work with Congress to shape this legislation.
Why Does It Matter to Our Producers?
The U.S. pork industry needs a viable agriculture workforce to remain globally competitive. Farms and packing plants rely heavily on immigrant labor. Without access to immigrant labor, production costs would increase, leading to higher food prices for consumers. In some cases, a shortage of labor could lead to facilities shutting down, causing serious financial harm for those operations.
What is NPPC's Position?
The U.S. pork industry is suffering from a serious labor shortage. NPPC supports visa system reform that establishes a legal and productive workforce while not unduly burdening employers. The system should contain workable solutions that allow undocumented workers already in the United States to continue working and should expand – or at least maintain – existing visa programs to make them more efficient and easier to navigate for employers.