Lawmakers and agriculture industry groups met face-to-face on Capitol Hill this week to discuss the serious labor shortage facing American farmers. They discussed the possibility of a comprehensive legislative package that would ease the chronic problem by legalizing undocumented workers and supporting a steady influx of laborers from other countries.
Washington state Representative Dan Newhouse took part in a panel discussion, saying, “This isn’t something we have the luxury of time to take to solve. This is hurting our industry as we speak.”
There are two ag labor bills that have been introduced so far this session. They would take care of parts of the broader issue.
However, a comprehensive fix has yet to appear. Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts still thinks a bipartisan solution to the problem is possible. “If we can figure out a combination here that makes sense, I think we can sell this,” Roberts says.
Politico says the effort to solve the problem could get a boost from President Trump. At the American Farm Bureau national convention last month, the president said he would be pushing for legislation to make the process of hiring more guest workers easier for farmers to accomplish.