Washington, D.C. (January 11, 2013)—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) joined with other farm groups today in announcing the creation of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), which represents the unified voice of agriculture as the sector seeks to ensure that farmers, ranchers and growers are able to access a skilled and stable workforce.
“As I travel around the country talking to co-op farmer-members, the most consistent area of concern is the difficulty many producers have had in the past few years finding enough workers to pick their crops, milk their cows, or take care of their animals,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “That is why it is so important that a broad cross section of agriculture come together in the AWC to work on a proposal that will ensure that both ag employers and their employees have access to a dependable and flexible program.”
The AWC has developed principles that provide a framework program that can help meet both the current and future employment needs of agriculture, continued Conner. It moves beyond the shortcomings of current programs like H-2A, which in the last few years has become broken beyond repair. The proposal includes both an adjustment in status for current agricultural employees who lack documentation and a new, flexible market-based visa program to ensure that farmers will be able to find new skilled employees as current workers move on to new employment opportunities.
“A key to the AWC’s success will be ensuring that any new program works for all of agriculture—both for fruit and vegetable growers who have seasonal labor needs, and dairy and livestock producers who hire employees to work year-round on their operations,” Conner emphasized. “NCFC looks forward to continuing to work with the other members of the AWC as we bring our proposal to Capitol Hill and begin to push for inclusion of the proposal in any immigration legislation taken up by Congress.”
Additional information on the AWC and its proposal can be found online at www.agworkforcecoalition.org.