Yesterday, during the hybrid 2022 Winter Policy Conference of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, NASDA members voted to promote agricultural workforce reform and establish more pathways to careers in the industry.
First, NASDA members adopted policy to support the ability of H-2A and H-2B workers in good standing to apply for permanent visa residence or citizenship, creating opportunities for non-seasonal agricultural employment. Additionally, members acted to deliberately foster the growth and development of a new generation of U.S. agricultural professionals.
NASDA President, New York Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball praised members’ actions saying, “Systems that retain our skilled workers and support a dependable workforce for the agricultural and food industries are necessary to a strong food supply. Supporting a pathway for current H-2A and H-2B workers in good standing to apply for permanent visa residence or citizenship and for our workers in non-seasonal sectors of the industry will help alleviate labor shortages and create a more resilient food system.”
NASDA’s policy supports the authorization of contract-related visas to enable workers to remain at their place of work through the duration of the contract, rather than the end of a season.
“Understanding the need of farmworkers and their families and the demand for labor across the U.S. food system, NASDA will continue to advocate for flexible, efficient visa programs that permit year-round employment for agricultural workers, along with other programs that address workforce challenges on a broader scale,” Ball said.
Acting to support all careers in agriculture and introduce the next generation to all the industry has to offer, NASDA members recommended the establishment of funding streams from the United States Departments of Education, Agriculture and Labor. Funding would be used to support agricultural education programs, create apprenticeships and establish partnerships to promote industry job openings off the farm and address regional employment needs.
“Using this multi-layered approach, will allow children at all levels the opportunity to be exposed to the agricultural industry and be excited about a future career in agriculture.”
For more information about NASDA’s efforts to advance the U.S. agricultural workforce, visit NASDA.org/WorkforceDevelopment.
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances American agriculture through policy, partnerships and public engagement. To learn more about NASDA, please visit www.nasda.org