Land O'Lakes, Inc., through our trade associations National Milk Producers Federation and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, which help lead the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), continues to work with Congressional staff to advance efforts on immigration reform. We expect legislation that addresses agriculture’s unique workforce needs to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this fall.
We anticipate that the legislation will address both challenges facing current workers, as well as create a new visa category for agriculture workers that will include the dairy industry’s on-farm and processing needs. The proposed legislation will likely require a “touchback” of current workers but, importantly, these workers will be able to return to their place of employment.
Through our ongoing work with our associations and coordination with members of Congress, we can confirm that the text of this bill has not been finalized and additional changes may be made to versions of the bill that have been circulated. These changes, along with other concerns not addressed in the legislation, will continue to be debated and discussed within our trade associations and the AWC. While we are eager to move forward on this issue, we must make sure the final draft of the bill is something we can support before offering our endorsement.
Specifically, we are looking for a bill that provides:
A new guest worker program that provides for worker and employer flexibility to meet employment needs H-2A was not designed to meet; and
A practical solution for current workforce that addresses legal presence and agricultural work authorization.
If the bill is introduced this fall and it adequately meets the needs of our members and the industry, we will need your vocal support for moving this legislation forward. Given the extremely challenging political hurdles that exist on immigration reform, we cannot achieve the legislative changes our industry desperately needs if we don’t speak out and speak up on this issue.
We will keep you posted on developments as the bill is finalized. We plan to provide a letter of support once we are able to review and endorse the final bill, and will ask that you join us in indicating your support at that time.
If you have any immediate questions, please feel free to contact Autumn Price or Katie Zenk in the Land O’Lakes Government Relations office by emailing GovernmentRelations@landolakes.com.