Organizations representing a broad cross-section of agricultural employers announced the formation of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC). As the unified voice of agriculture, the AWC's goal is to seek legislation that ensures America's farms, ranches and other agricultural operations have access to a stable and skilled workforce.
In particular, the coalition, recognizing that existing programs and previous proposals have proved unworkable, is putting forward a framework that includes both an earned adjustment in status for current experienced farm workers and a program to ensure that producers continue to have access to a workforce as current agricultural employees move on to other jobs. A key to the framework will be ensuring that it meets the needs of all of agriculture-both those employers with seasonal labor needs and those who provide year-round employment opportunities.
American agriculture, as we know it, would not be possible without the contributions of more than 1.5 million hired workers each year. Beyond the farm gate, each of these workers supports two to three full-time jobs in the food processing, transportation, farm equipment, marketing, retail and other sectors. Ensuring that farmers, ranchers and growers have access to the workers they need to maintain their productivity and competitiveness will help support continued growth in employment across the economy and in areas far removed from farm country.
A discussion about participation on this coalition is on the agenda for the American Sheep Industry Association's annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 23-26.
Additional information on the AWC can be found on its website at www.agworkforcecoalition.org.