Farm labor reform remains a priority for the American Farm Bureau Federation and its President, Zippy Duvall.
The Senate last year failed to advance a last-minute Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bill that some thought to be the best chance for farm labor reforms in decades. The legislation was passed by the House more than a year earlier.
However, AFBF President Duvall says the legislation didn’t do enough for Farm Bureau.
“It just wasn’t enough, and it didn’t go far enough to provide enough workers for all of agriculture. And we are very concerned about the wage rate formula because we don’t think it’s sustainable. It’s outgrowing the costs of anywhere across the country and we want to make sure that we have time to work on that formula that calculates that wage rate. We have to do better, and we must do better to make sure that it’s sustainable for the farmer and for the workers.”
Sam Kieffer, AFBF Vice President of Public Policy, says there are other issues within farm labor that need addressed, and Farm Bureau will continue to engage with lawmakers.
“We have been actively engaged for the last 18 months specifically with Senators Bennet and Crapo, and we remain committed to working with any legislator in either chamber to find the solutions to work for all of agriculture. President Duvall identified some of the concerns we had with the last-minute agreement in the United States Senate. Our membership does support E-Verify. However, when E-Verify is hanging over the heads of producers without a sufficient number of visas for the workforce that is already here, that is a concern.”
Duvall and Kieffer made those comments during the 2023 AFBF Annual Convention in Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau delegates are scheduled to set AFBF policy priorities for the new year Tuesday.