International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) members testified at the May 31 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing “From farm to table: Immigrant workers get the job done”. The committee hearing is led by Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Adam Lytch, regional manager at L&M Farms, testified with his insights on the need for immigration reform. Lytch spoke on the labor challenges facing growers including recent regulations impacting H-2A visa users and the need for agriculture immigration reform. Lytch highlighted the role the foreign workforce plays in American agriculture and keeping the food supply chain running and also stressed the major concerns with incoming regulations around wages being paid based on job function which will only make existing challenges worse.
Chalmers Carr and Adam Lytch testified at the May 31 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing “From farm to table: Immigrant workers get the job done.”
“The AEWR was created to protect American workers who performed the same duties as those working on H-2A contracts so they would not be adversely affected,” testified Lytch. “That is no longer the case since there are no American workers willing to fill our jobs. American families are adversely affected as agriculture’s workforce crisis will drive food prices even higher. If nothing changes, there will most certainly be sharp decreases in production affecting farmers, farmworkers and the rural communities in which we operate who depend on agriculture.”
He stressed that the immigration system is broken and that Congress must pass legislation that achieves comprehensive immigration reform. “I would urge Congress and this Committee to be supportive of a bill that makes meaningful improvements to the H-2A program and affords increased access and wage stability for farmers and provides legal status to the hundreds of thousands of skilled farmworkers working without authorization,” urged Lytch. “Recent attempts like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act were helpful bipartisan to achieve these goals, but more could have been done to ensure a stable workforce. The provisions included in the bipartisan Dignity Act, recently re-introduced in the House of Representatives, come much closer to providing a solution.”
Chalmers Carr, president of USA Farmers and IFPA member, also testified. "We have a substantial shortage of domestic and foreign workers electing to work in agriculture,” said Carr. “This in part at least helps explain why food prices are increasing at four to five times the normal inflation rate, outpacing many other sectors of the economy. To right the ship and ensure that the United States meets its domestic food needs, as well as the needs of others around the world, we need to address the agricultural labor crisis here."
Others providing testimony include attorney Leon Sequeira; Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute; and Diana Tellefson Torres of the UFW.