March 28, 2024

Interpretive Summary: The US House Ag Labor Working Group release final report

The US House Ag Labor Working Group release final report 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States House Agricultural Working Group has released its final report with policy recommendations. The bipartisan working group participated in extensive discussions with producers across the nation to identify key challenges faced by the industry The goal of the report is to bolster the agricultural workforce.   

“America’s agriculture industry depends on the availability of a reliable workforce. However, as we have traveled the country, listening to farmers, ranchers, workers, and producers, it’s become abundantly clear that a lack of reliable labor is one of the industry’s greatest challenges. We want to thank Representatives Crawford and Davis for leading the working group, as well as the other members who dedicated their time and energy to this bipartisan effort,” said the House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson and Ranking Member David Scott 

In June 2023, the House Committee on Agriculture established the working group. The working group released an interim report on November 7, 2023. The recommendations put forth by the working group in the newly released final report encompass various aspects of labor management in agriculture. Solutions offered include:

  • Streamlining the recruiting and hiring of H-2A employees
  • Expanding the H-2A program to meet year-round needs
  • Paying employees based on duties performed for most of their day
  • Reforming wage calculation standards to provide stability in farmworker pay rates. 

Many in the American agricultural community feel the working group laid out a roadmap to relieve labor shortages that have seriously impacted America’s farmers and ranchers. American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall said in a statement, “We are losing farms in America at a rapid pace and there is no question that our broken workforce system is partly to blame. This report makes it clear, once again, that there is bipartisan agreement on the need to improve the H-2A program to better serve America’s agriculture sector. This working group of the House Agriculture Committee spent months studying and discussing this issue and now delivers important bipartisan solutions for America’s struggling agricultural labor force.”

The report also includes several weather-related worker protection recommendations. Additionally, the report advocates for fair compensation practices, proposing reforms to ensure that employees are remunerated based on their daily tasks. This includes a call for improved wage calculation standards to promote stability in farmworker pay rates.

“Shortages in agriculture labor and the need to update the H-2A program are pressing issues, especially for rural America. Farmers are finding it extremely difficult to continue operating with rising costs. I have listened to eastern North Carolinians and many across our nation. Labor issues are top of mind. The Agriculture Labor Working Group’s final report offers common-sense solutions and a pathway that benefits farmers and workers,” said Co-Chair of the working group, Representative Don Davis. 

Read the working group’s final report here