Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has announced a new initiative to highlight the importance of foreign-born workers across the American pork industry and the need for broad labor reform to address labor shortages.
“The U.S. pork industry is highly dependent on foreign-born workers who make tremendous contributions in their jobs and communities,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Unfortunately, current visa programs don’t provide access to enough workers to meet our labor needs on farms and in plants.”
“Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers” gives the perspective of 4 foreign-born workers and their employees in the pork industry. “It is focusing on not only the need for each to perform, which is a pretty big component but also the pretty big success stories that we’ve had with a lot of our foreign-born workforce that exists already,” said Jack Detiveaux, NPPC Manager of competition, tax and labor issues. “We’re really proud of the diversity on our farms, up and down the supply chain, and in many cases, a lot of folks that we do have that are foreign-born are interval parts of their communities. We’ve seen a lot of the success and want to highlight it, so people know how interval it has been for our industry and how much more we have to gain by making these changes to immigration policy.”
The pork industry uses the H-2A visa program for specialized work, but the program is not allowed to be utilized for most labor needs because of its seasonal limitation. NPPC states that without reform, food prices and harm to the agricultural industry will increase. NPPC has been vocal about the need for comprehensive labor reform, urging Congress to address labor reform that allows the H-2A visa program to accept year-round labor without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. This reform would ensure that the livestock sector can compete globally and continue to provide affordable pork to Americans and consumers worldwide.
“There are not enough people that want to work in agriculture to fill the jobs that we have. If we’re not able to provide people to raise these animals, we’re going to have to raise less of them, and that means that you’re going to pay more for that protein source,” said Michael Springer, a hog farmer from Independence, Kansas. “People want to eat 365 days a year. Our current seasonal visa program does not work for livestock production because it does not put people on our farm 365 days a year to take care of the animals,” he added.
Check out the campaign here.