U.S Farms Are Dependent on Migrant Labor

U.S Farms Are Dependent on Migrant Labor
December 16, 2023 Comments Off on U.S Farms Are Dependent on Migrant Labor International Affairs, Local Politics, RNHA News Articles Robert Cross
The United States of America employs numerous migrant and seasonal workers through the National Farmworker’s Jobs Program ( NFJP).  The United Nations estimates that approximately 230 million people are currently living outside their country of citizenship. Under the USCMA Mexico and Canada purchased 4.7 billion dollars worth of produce exported from the United States in 2021. Migrant workers come over on H-2a visas and make up the overwhelming majority of farm laborers in the United States. 
According to a Kut News article, the Agricultural industry in Texas is worth about 25 billion dollars a year. However, farmers and ranchers throughout Texas are facing a labor shortage in the industry. Kut News reported that from 2021 to 2023 the demand for H-2a visas increased by 36 % and that 11, 655 H-2a visas were certified in Texas. Rural communities are dependent on migrant labor that comes to the U.S. on H-2a visas and without their labor billions of dollars in agricultural revenue would be lost.
The process that employers go through to sponsor H-2a immigrants is costly. The employer first must try to recruit locally and after a failed recruitment campaign the employer may apply to the Department of Labor for a temporary labor certification which allows the company to recruit labor abroad. This can cost an employer up to 20,000 dollars a season and H-2a visas could still decline leaving the company without enough labor to complete their harvest.
The U.S. agricultural industry’s dependency on foreign labor leaves it especially vulnerable during national crises. Take for instance what happened to Spain during the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain lost approximately 438 million dollars from their migrant labor shortage. In 2021, United States immigration slowed down leaving key roles in the U.S. supply chain open and slowing down production. According to USDA, 73% of agriculture workers come from immigrant labor in the United States of America.  That is over half of the United States agricultural labor force is made up of immigrant laborers mainly from Central America. 
According to FWD, 56% of Californian Farmers reported difficulty in getting the laborers that they need to harvest their crops. Annually the U.S. agriculture industry hires about 2 million farm laborers to harvest crops and get produce to market. Farmers across the United States of America scramble every year to get enough laborers to harvest the billions of dollars worth of crops that the United States produces each year. The U.S. agricultural labor shortage is causing the United States to import more crops than it exports.  Our agricultural labor shortage is a key factor in preventing the U.S. from correcting its current trade imbalance. Without migrant labor, the U.S. agricultural industry would not be able to harvest the majority of its crops annually. 
About The Author
Robert Cross Robert Cross is Spaniard and Cuban on his mother’s side. He started his career in public service serving in local ministries that provided education assistance to K-12 students in San Bernardino County, and work rehabilitation for ex-convicts, veterans, disabled individuals and refugees. He has been published in Borgen Project Magazine, Borgen Project Blog, RNHA News. Robert Cross earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy and International Affairs from Liberty University and a Bachelors degree in History from California State University of San Bernardino.