WASHINGTON – Jen Sorenson, president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 21 to discuss the labor shortage at many processing plants.
Sorenson asked the committee to consider reforming the H-2A visa program which currently allows employers who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. The NPPC is asking for the program to extend to year-round visas.
“Current visa programs designed for seasonal agriculture – such as the H-2A visa – fail to meet the workforce needs of US pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers. Now more than ever, we need a dedicated, year-round workforce,” Sorenson told the committee.
If not addressed, the labor shortage “could lead to farms and packing plants shutting down, causing serious financial harm to the communities in which they operate,” Sorenson continued. “As a result, pork production would be constrained, leading to higher food prices for consumers and the United States becoming an unreliable trading partner for the many countries around the world that rely on our pork.”
The association noted that legislation was passed earlier in 2021 that would offer a capped number of year-round visas. However, NPPC and Sorenson said that would not be enough.
“While NPPC believes the bill is a step in the right direction, a cap will force different sectors of livestock agriculture to compete against one another for the same limited number of year-round visas,” she said. In that scenario, no one wins and, ultimately, the consumer will be punished with reduced pork supplies and higher prices at the store.”
Sorenson’s testimony can be found here.