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Farm Labor Reform Needed in 2013

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At the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau farm labor was one of the central topics and delegates voted in support of streamlining or replacing the H-2A seasonal and temporary agricultural worker program.

Reform for U.S. and Indiana farmers and their employees is critical according to Don Villwock, President of Indiana Farm Bureau.

“Dairy producers and many of our pork producers today rely on external labor from all areas of the world to come in and help them,” he told HAT in Nashville. “It’s been a contentious issue, they say a nuclear issue in the congress, but it needs to be addressed. It’s really important that agriculture has a reliable workforce and that’s one of the keys that we are asking for, and that is the workforce that we utilize to harvest not only seasonal crops but all of our production in agriculture today, know that they can be here, know that they are going to be here next year as well. And to not have their families impacted is really critical.”

AFBF President Bob Stallman is hopeful Congress will take up real immigration reform, and earlier better than later.

“Our delegates voted to do what we’re already trying to do with the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and that’s figuring out a way to replace and or streamline the current seasonal and temporary program and at the same time bring a lot of those who have been in the shadows with false documents and are not here legally out of the shadows and provide them opportunity through visa to work either at will or in contract employment.”

Stallman added, “Now the reality is we’re only going to solve this with comprehensive immigration reform, but we certainly want to include our agriculture guest worker piece of that that is critical to U.S. agriculture.”

Voting delegates also voiced support for a flexible, crop insurance based farm bill. Visit the AFBF website for a summary of delegate action. Villwock was among state presidents re-elected to the board of directors, serving the Midwest Region.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2013/01/Farm-labor-at-AFBF.mp3|titles=Farm labor at AFBF]