Farmers Still Suffer From Labor Shortage

Farmers across the country are still suffering from chronic labor shortages, recent US Department of Agriculture estimates reveal. The difficulty attracting stable labor pools is partially a result of the United States’ incoherent and poorly implemented immigration policy, a policy that many farm officials hope to change.
Immigration has long been a hot-button issue in the US. While federal immigration policy has been unchanged for years, several states have passed restrictive immigration bills seeking to curb the flow of undocumented immigrants.
These state laws have led to an exodus of undocumented workers and has severely shrunk the available agricultural labor pool in several states. Places like Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama have all reported significant losses due to a lack of available workers (Georgia, for example, is losing about $320 million a year thanks to a shrinking workforce).
In a recent visit to Georgia, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stressed the importance of passing a stalled immigration bill. “Unfortunately, today American agriculture is faced with a situation where producers are reducing and contracting what they’re able to grow – or actually moving operations outside the country, in some cases,” said Vilsack. “That’s simply because they do not have the assurance and certainty of an adequate workforce. That’s why comprehensive immigration reform is so important.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer