American agriculture depends on a stable workforce to plant, harvest, process, and ship its crops. However, domestic workers provide an insufficient source of labor for the potato industry and for other specialty crop producers.
Farm Workforce Modernization Act
NPC, as a member of the Ag Workforce Coalition, is working to enact long-term solutions that establish effective border security, a path to legal work status for undocumented agricultural workers, and sustainable guest worker programs to fulfill the ongoing needs in the potato industry. The passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in late 2019 was the first time the House of Representatives had successfully acted upon agricultural labor reform in over 20 years. NPC remains focused on improving on the bill in the Senate and getting an agriculture-supported solution to the president’s desk before the end of 2020.
The sole agricultural guest worker program (H-2A) supplies only 10% of the necessary agricultural workforce, in part because it operates in a cumbersome and unresponsive manner. In particular, the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) that is required for the H-2A program has skyrocketed in 2020 by over 20% in certain states. This unworkable structure drives employers away from the program and harms investment in rural America that would otherwise occur.
Ag Workforce Coalition
The National Potato Council is a leader in the Ag Workforce Coalition (AWC), which represents the combined interests of U.S. agriculture on legislation to address the ag labor crisis. The AWC was actively engaged in the negotiations on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act that passed the House of Representatives in 2019. NPC continues to advocate that the Senate take reciprocal action and send a workable solution to the president’s desk before the end of this Congress.