United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue understands the importance of establishing an effective guestworker program and is optimistic about some of the progress made. “We think it’s vital for the future,” he said. Perdue talked with AgNet West’s Taylor Hillman about the issues. “Our farmers are rule followers; they want to be compliant. They don’t want to be looking over their shoulder. They don’t want their employees looking over their shoulder,” he said.
On a recent trip to California, Secretary Perdue met with several farmers throughout the state. One of the biggest concerns felt by growers revolved around labor and the proposed H-2C program that is moving through Congress. “It’s incumbent upon us as the U.S. government to give them a program where they can hire people who are legal,” said Perdue.
The Agricultural Guestworker Act, known as the AG Act, would replace the current H-2A guestworker program with an H-2C program that would be administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. The bill was introduced on October 2 by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.
Perdue noted that the H-2C program is not a fix-all, but it is a move in the right direction. “I think it’s a start and we want to continue the ball in the air, moving down the field, to see if we can get a legal guestworker program for agricultural producers,” Perdue stated.