Rouzer: We Have an Opportunity for H2A Reform

Across farm country producers have been calling for changes to the H2A program to allow for less bureaucracy and more efficiency. The house agricultural labor working group has now released an interim report highlighting the issues exacerbating the lack of available domestic workforce. Its impact on our nation’s domestic food supply and potential solutions. North Carolina seventh District Congressman David Rouzer is a member of the working group.

The report goes in and details a good bit of that it basically lays out all the problems that have been presented to the committee by these stakeholders and other individual producers who have a long experience with H2A program. And so the next task is to pull together some legislative language, some legislative proposals that would receive both Republican and Democratic support to try to make some adjustments to the H2A program when we can find that right political opportunity to do so.

The group was formed earlier this year specifically to address ag labor issues in a bipartisan way. And Rouzer tells SFN this report is a first step in a highly complex issue.

That will lead to a list of legislative proposals. And once we get out that out there and determine what’s politically viable, I think you’ll see us move forward when we have an opportunity to address a number of these major issues that are affecting American agriculture.

Rouzer says he sees an opportunity now with growers in the West in alignment with the growers in the South and East, something that’s not always been the case.

I think everybody is very much on the same page that these reforms need to be made. We need to have a good, strong, legal guestworker program where workers can come and go and particularly get here on time so the crops can be salvaged, and then return to their home country, and then those industries that need a full-time, year-round labor force, hopefully we can make the necessary changes to this visa program to accommodate that as well.

The interim report can be found on the House Committee on Agriculture’s website. Over the next several months, members of the Working Group will continue to meet to develop legislative proposals to address the issues identified in the report.