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4-27-2016 House Committee on Agriculture – Subcommittee Hearing

On Wednesday, 4-27-2016, NCAE Executive Member, Maureen Torrey of Torrey Farms (Elba, NY) testified on behalf of United Fresh before the House Agriculture Committee’s subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research. Other NCAE Members Organizations represented by the witnesses included: National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Illinois Farm Bureau, United Fresh, Northwest Horticultural Council, Texas Citrus Mutual and CropLife America.

Photo by American Farm Bureau Federation

Photo by American Farm Bureau Federation at the 4-27-2016 House Committee of Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Hearing

This was the the third hearing in the series Focus on the Farm Economy. The seven witnesses provided insight and testimony into different programs and policies impacting farm efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Although the hearing was not dedicated to the labor problems that affect the industry, it was mentioned in many of the testimonies, with special attention drawn to the significant delays and regulatory burdens posed by the the H-2A program.

4-27-2016 Press Release from the House Committee On Agriculture

Witness List and Testimonies:

The Honorable Charles Conner, (Testimony) President & CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Washington, DC

The Honorable Jeff M. Witte, (Testimony) Secretary/Director, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, Las Cruces, NM, on behalf of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

Ms. Maureen Torrey, (Testimony) Vice President, Torrey Farms, Inc. Elba, NY, on behalf of the United Fresh Produce Association

Ms. Kate Woods, (Testimony)Vice President, Northwest Horticultural Council, Yakima, WA

Mr. Richard Guebert, (Testimony) President, Illinois Farm Bureau, Bloomington, IL

Mr. Dale Murden, (Testimony) President, Texas Citrus Mutual, Mission, TX

Mr. Jay Vroom, (Testimony) President, CropLife America, Washington, DC

Ball State University 2014 Study on Migrant Workers

Another study shows that “migrancy” is down.  This study from Ball State University discusses trends including a continuing decline in migrancy. The summary also says the percentage of female migrant workers has increased and also discusses more issues that deserve further study.  There may be a contradiction in that while documented workers still migrate, undocumented workers appear less migratory due to risk of being apprehended, but then one of the conclusions is that status normalization might cause even less migrancy and thus make the labor situation worse.  See the study here: 2014 Ball State Study – Why Do Fewer Agricultural Workers Migrate Now

4-13-2016 Walmart promised to source only cage-free eggs

This article about “cage free” egg production is important to the producers of all products (food, ornamentals, fiber, etc) whose customer is the consuming public. With Walmart announcing, the cage-free production program has probably reached the tipping-point where it must become the normal production practice over time (unless retailers reverse course for some reason.) It is an important example of the fact that retailers will eventually do what customers demand, even if those demands were driven by bad—or even ill-intended—motivators, regardless of the impact on producers, supply, cost, etc.. In the end, retailers will act first and foremost on what they perceive to be their own self-interest. This is the same issue as a $15 minimum wage, should consumers be perceived to demand their food be produced under that requirement, retailers will flock to accommodate—even if it hastens the percentage of food produced out of the US.