Duvall: Securing the Border Not A Prerequisite for Labor Reform

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval says the demand from the national organization and state farm bureaus’ that the Biden Administration secure the southern border is not a precondition for backing migrant farm labor reform, despite others say it should be. Duval said the Farm Bureau wants the border secured for the safety of farmers and other landowners, but it also wants long-sought H-2A visa reform.

“Labor continues to be the biggest limiting factor we have in American agriculture. We have young people that want to come to agriculture, but on the way to do that, is to be able to expand our farms, bring them in, whether they’re relatives and children, or whether they’re just a fine young man that wants to get into agriculture, how do you bring them in and help them get started without expanding your operation? You can’t. And you can’t expand your operation without having a reliable source of labor.”

But Duval said there needs to be a discussion because the issues of border security and Ag labor shortages are not going away.

“And yes, we do support some type of adjustment of status of the current workforces here that’s undocumented. These people have been here, in some cases, 10, 15, 20 years. They’re good, hard-working families, and a lot of them, part of our families and definitely part of our communities. And shame on us if we leave them standing in the dark and scared to drive to town.”

Duval said any reform needs to be year-round, flexible for all-size producers, and affordable. Whether the politics ‘gets out of the way,’ Duval said he doesn’t know, but after the pandemic’s empty shelves, he argues people need to realize food is a “national security issue.”

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