Washington D.C. – International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) BB #:378962 members testified at the May 31 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing “From farm to table: Immigrant workers get the job done”.
The full committee hearing is led by Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Adam Lytch, regional manager at L&M Farms, testified today on his first-hand insights on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Lytch spoke on the labor challenges facing growers including recent regulations impacting H-2A visa users and the need for agriculture immigration reform. Lytch highlighted the important role that the foreign workforce plays in American agriculture and keeping the food supply chain running. In addition to addressing the failings of current labor policy, Lytch stressed the major concerns with incoming regulations around wages being paid based on job function which will only serve to make existing challenges worse.
“The AEWR was originally created to protect American workers who performed the same duties as those working on H-2A contracts so they would not be adversely affected,” testified Lytch. “That is no longer the case since there are no American workers willing to fill our jobs. In fact, American families are the ones adversely affected, as agriculture’s workforce crisis will drive food prices even higher. If nothing changes, there will most certainly be sharp decreases in production affecting not only farmers and farmworkers, but the rural communities in which we operate who depend on agriculture.”
Lytch’s testimony called out several pain points within current and proposed labor policy and regulations. He stressed that the immigration system is broken, and that Congress must pass legislation that achieves comprehensive immigration reform.
“I would urge Congress and this Committee to be supportive of a bill that makes meaningful improvements to the H-2A program and affords increased access and wage stability for farmers and provides legal status to the hundreds of thousands of skilled farmworkers who are working without authorization,” urged Lytch. “Recent attempts like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act were helpful bipartisan to achieve these goals, but more could have been done to ensure a stable workforce that farmers like me need. The agricultural workforce provisions included in the bipartisan Dignity Act, which was recently re-introduced in the House of Representatives, come much closer to providing a complete solution.”
Chalmers Carr, President of USA Farmers and IFPA Member, also testified at the hearing.
“Today, we have a substantial shortage of both domestic and foreign workers electing to work in agriculture,” said Carr. “This in part at least helps explain why food prices are increasing at 4-to-5 times the normal inflation rate, outpacing many other sectors of the economy. In order to right the ship and ensure that the United States once again meets its own domestic food needs, as well as the needs of other around the world, we need to address the agricultural labor crisis here at home.”
Others providing testimony include attorney Leon Sequeira; Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute; and Diana Tellefson Torres of the UFW.
The hearing was recorded and can be reviewed on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary website.
About the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)
The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) is the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain and the only to seamlessly integrate world-facing advocacy and industry-facing support. We exist to bring the industry together to create a vibrant future for all. We grow our member’s prosperity by conducting advocacy; connecting people and ideas; and offering guidance that allows us all to take action with purpose and confidence.