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Letter from Ag Groups Supporting Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Letters
March 12, 2021

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                  The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Speaker                                                                     Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                               U.S. House of Representatives
1236 Longworth House Office Building                 2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515                                          Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy:

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was passed with bipartisan support by the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress and represents the lengthy cooperative and negotiated efforts of agricultural employers and labor unions. This same bill with minimal updates was reintroduced on March 3, 2021. The undersigned groups, representing a broad cross-section of agriculture and its allies, urge you to again advance this same bill through the House to address the agricultural workforce crisis affecting our nation’s farms, and ultimately, our food security.

A stable, legal workforce is needed to ensure the United States will continue to produce an abundant, safe, and affordable food supply. Every farm employee engaged in high-value, labor-intensive crop and livestock production sustains two-to-three off-farm jobs. The critical shortage of these employees not only constrains our farmers and ranchers, but also restricts our global economic competitiveness, hinders local economies, and curbs jobs. As foreign producers take advantage of our workforce labor shortage and gain market share, America will export more of our food production and thousands of these farm-dependent jobs. Additionally, wage volatility in the H-2A guestworker program makes it extremely difficult for farmers to use the program, as it makes the already expensive and somewhat burdensome program erratic in its price inflation. The recent release of the 2021 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) has once again suddenly increased farmers’ labor costs by an average of 5%, with some absorbing increases of nearly 9%, all while revenues for agricultural goods continue to diminish. These AEWR increases far outpace average wage growth across the broader U.S. economy during the same two-year span. The unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic has further crippled agriculture and increased production costs. The loss of markets, interruption of supply chain logistics, an increasingly insufficient number of employees, and greater price volatility are just a few of the many challenges the pandemic has brought to the industry. All the while, agricultural employers have been resilient, striving to ensure a safe workspace for their employees and serving as a reliable source of jobs. No matter, with production and labor costs far outpacing revenues, agricultural employers will simply not be able to remain in business. The House must pass legislation that preserves agriculture’s experienced workforce by allowing current farm employees to earn legal status and continue to support America’s agricultural industry. This must also include an agricultural worker visa program that provides access to a legal and reliable workforce moving forward.  This visa program should be more accessible, predictable, and flexible to meet the needs of producers, including those with year-round labor needs such as dairy and livestock, which currently do not have meaningful access to any program. While the bill does include some provisions concerning to the agricultural community, we are committed to working together throughout the legislative process to address these issues. It is vital to move the Farm Workforce Modernization Act through the House as a significant step in addressing our labor crisis so American agriculture can continue to feed our nation and the world. Sincerely, African-American Farmers of California Ag Valley Cooperative, Non-Stock AgCountry Farm Credit Services Agribusiness Henderson County (NC) Agricultural Council of California Agri-Mark, Inc. Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Inc. Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association Almond Alliance Amalgamated Sugar Company American AgCredit American AgriWomen American Beekeeping Federation American Honey Producers Association American Mushroom Institute American Pistachio Growers American Seed Trade Association American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) AmericanHort Arizona Dairy Producers Trade Association Arizona Nursery Association Associated Milk Producers Inc. Aurora Organic Dairy Bluebird Bonanza Farms Bongards’ Creameries CalChamber California Apple Commission California Association of Food Banks California Association of Wheat Growers California Avocado Commission California Blueberry Association California Blueberry Commission California Canning Peach Association California Cherry Growers and Industry Association California Citrus Mutual California Dairies, Inc. California Date Commission California Dried Plum Board California Farm Bureau Federation California Fig Advisory Board California Fresh Fruit Association California Pear Growers Association California Seed Association California State Floral Association California Strawberry Commission California Sweet Potato Council California Tomato Growers Association California Walnut Commission California Warehouse Association California Women for Agriculture Cayuga Milk Ingredients Center for Dairy Excellence (Pennsylvania) Certified American Grown Chobani CHS Inc. Co-Alliance Cooperative, Inc. CoBank Colorado Dairy Farmers Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association Colorado Potato Legislative Association Cooperative Milk Producers Association Cooperative Producers, Inc. Costa Farms Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. Dairy Producers of New Mexico Dairy Producers of Utah Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery Empire State Potato Growers Far West Agribusiness Association Farm Credit East Farmers Cooperative FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Federation of Employers and Workers of America First District Association Florida Agri-Women Florida Citrus Mutual Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association Florida Strawberry Growers Association Florida Tomato Exchange Food Northwest Food Producers of Idaho Foremost Farms USA Frenchman Valley Farmers Cooperative Inc. Fresh Harvest/Steve Scaroni (CA) Fresno County Farm Bureau (CA) Georgia Green Industry Association Georgia Milk Producers, Inc. Georgia Urban Ag Council Glanbia Nutritionals Idaho Alfalfa/Clover Seed Commission Idaho Alfalfa/Clover Seed Growers Association Idaho Apple Commission Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry Idaho Bankers Association Idaho Cattleman’s Association Idaho Dairymen’s Association Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association Idaho Grain Producers Association Idaho Grower Shippers Association Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Idaho Hop Growers Association Idaho Milk Products Idaho Mint Growers Association Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association Idaho Onion Growers Association Idaho Potato Commission Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Idaho-Oregon Fruit & Vegetable Association Illinois Green Industry Association Indiana Dairy Producers Indiana Nursery and Landscape Association Indiana Outdoor Maintenance Alliance International Dairy Foods Association Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association Iowa State Dairy Association Kansas Dairy Association Land O’Lakes, Inc. Laurel Springs Nursery, LLC (NC) Leitz Farms LLC/Fred Leitz (MI) Lone Star Milk Producers Madera County Farm Bureau (CA) Maine Landscape & Nursery Association Maine Potato Board Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Maryland Nursery, Landscape, and Greenhouse Association, Inc. Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, Inc. MBG Marketing McCain USA Inc. Michigan Apple Association Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council Michigan Milk Producers Association Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association Mid Kansas Cooperative Midwest Apple Improvement Association Midwest Dairy Coalition Milk Producers Council Milk Producers of Idaho Minnesota Milk Producers Association Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association Missouri Green Industry Alliance Montana Nursery and Landscape Association Monterey County Farm Bureau (CA) Mount Joy Farmers Cooperative Association National All-Jersey Inc. National Association of State Departments of Agriculture National Council of Agricultural Employers National Council of Farmer Cooperatives National Farmers Union National Grange National Milk Producers Federation National Onion Association National Potato Council National Young Farmers Coalition Nebraska Cooperative Council Nebraska State Dairy Association New England Apple Council New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association New Mexico Chapter, Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association New York Apple Association New York Farm Bureau New York State Flower Industries New York State Vegetable Growers Association Nezperce Prairie Grass Growers Association Nisei Farmers League North American Blueberry Council North Carolina Dairy Producers Association North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association North Carolina Potato Association Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives Northeast Dairy Producers Association, Inc. Northern Family Farms LLP, Merrillan, WI Northern Plains Potato Growers Association Northwest Ag Cooperatives Council Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold Northwest Horticultural Council Ohio Dairy Producers Association Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Association Ohio Landscape Association Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association Oklahoma Nursery & Landscape Association Olive Growers Council of California Oneida-Madison Milk Producers Cooperative Association Oregon Association of Nurseries Oregon Dairy Farmers Association Oregon Potato Commission Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association PennAg Industries Association Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association Plant California Alliance Potato Growers of Michigan, Inc Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania Reiter Affiliated Companies Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association San Diego County Farm Bureau (CA) Scioto Cooperative Milk Producers’ Association Select Milk Producers, Inc. Simplot South Central Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce South Dakota Association of Cooperatives South Dakota Dairy Producers Southeast Milk Inc. Southern States Cooperative Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (CA) Sunkist Growers, Inc. Sunmaid Growers of California Sunsweet Growers Inc. Tennessee Farmers Cooperative Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council Texas Association of Dairymen Texas Citrus Mutual Texas Nursery & Landscape Association Tillamook County Creamery Association Tree Top Tulare County Farm Bureau (CA) Turfgrass Producers International U.S. Apple Association U.S. Durum Growers Association U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce United Dairymen of Arizona United Fresh Produce Association United Potato Growers of America Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. Utah Apple Marketing Board Utah Horticulture Association Utah Nursery & Landscape Association Utah Tart Cherry Marketing Board Valley Fig Growers Valley Vision (CA) Ventura County Agricultural Association (CA) Vermont Dairy Producers Alliance Virginia Apple Growers Association Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association Virginia State Dairymen’s Association Washington Growers League Washington State Dairy Federation Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association Washington State Potato Commission Washington State Tree Fruit Association West Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association Western Growers Association Western Plant Health Association Western States Dairy Producers Association Western United Dairies WineAmerica Wine Institute Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association   cc: U.S. House of Representatives
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