Challenges for House Ag Labor Working Group

DanAgri-Business, Labor and Immigration, Legislative


Congress is looking into farm labor needs around the nation, but it is a challenging task. The House Agriculture Committee recently announced the creation of the bipartisan Agricultural Labor Working Group (see news release below), which will focus on the workforce issues faced by agricultural producers around the nation. Congressman and farmer Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) says the current system needs to be updated. 

“In the United States, we haven’t been able to really address this effectively for nearly 40 years. We need a formal process for that so our labor force, if they’re coming from our southern border area and come across legally with documents, with a background, will be able to move freely back and forth and know that they’re going to be secure here. And that the farmer knows they’re going to have a secure workforce,” he said. “We don’t really have that right. Now we have this indefinite way of doing things that subjects the laborers to bad situations and farmers to uncertainty.”

Members of the working group have been selected from current Committee members and aim to represent every sector and geographical region of American agriculture. LaMalfa says different regions around the nation have different needs, but the goal isn’t to please everyone.

“Well, are you pleasing everybody, are you making some less annoyed than others or what have you. So, it’s really got to be a bit of all the above,” he said. “Some people accept like, hey, you know, I might not get everything to do today, but there’s nothing that’s harmful to me. Then maybe we’ll come back to the table later.” The final report of the working group will provide potential solutions that can be used in future legislation.

Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member Scott Announce Bipartisan Working Group Tackling Agriculture Workforce Challenges

(WASHINGTON, DC/June 21, 2023) — House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) and Ranking Member David Scott (GA-13) released the following joint statement after announcing the formation of the bipartisan Agricultural Labor Working Group, focusing on the workforce issues faced by the nation’s agricultural producers:

“The Committee on Agriculture has heard loud and clear from producers across the nation that one of the biggest challenges confronting the agriculture industry is a lack of reliable labor. Though not directly in our committee’s jurisdiction, we have a responsibility to be a voice in Congress on the issues and policies impacting farmers and ranchers. This is a complex problem that deserves the focused attention of the Members who hear from producers every day rather than the partisan grandstanding that has plagued these efforts in the past.”

Members of the working group have been selected from current Committee members and aim to represent every sector and geographical region of American agriculture.

Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-01) and Don Davis (NC-01) will co-chair the working group. The working group will:

  • Seek input from stakeholders, employers, and workers, particularly emphasizing the H-2A visa program for nonimmigrant agricultural workers;
  • Produce an interim report detailing the program’s shortcomings and the impacts on food security, and;
  • File a final report with recommendations to address the flaws within the program.

“A robust agriculture industry starts with a strong and healthy workforce. However, due to a labor shortage, American farmers are increasingly turning to overseas workers to fill positions on the farm. Unfortunately, this is not an easy process because our visa policies and regulations have become convoluted and burdensome. Reforms are desperately needed to address this pressing issue. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common-sense solutions that help our farmers and producers better staff the farm to help feed and clothe the world,” said Rep. Crawford.

“I hear from farmers and producers daily about their need for more workers to ensure they can grow the food that feeds all of us. I look forward to working with my fellow Co-Chair, Representative Rick Crawford, and the other Members of the Agriculture Labor Working Group to come together and craft bipartisan solutions to the labor issues that farmers and producers face. I thank Chairman Thompson and Ranking Member Scott for appointing me to serve as one of the Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Agriculture Labor Working Group,” said Rep. Davis.

The final report of the working group will provide a suite of potential solutions that can inform and be utilized in subsequent legislative efforts.


Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet News Hour and The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.