It’s time to get something done!
While Congress and the Administration churn through their chaotic processes regarding things important to agriculture, people in the countryside need answers. Things just aren’t getting done in Washington, DC like they should.
Farm Bill negotiations in the conference committee have ground to a halt. The shutdown isn’t due to changes to commodity programs or conservation programs or even the proposed prohibition on slaughter of dogs or cats for human consumption (it’s in there). The impasse is due to Farm Bill feeding programs for the hungry.
Trade agreement negotiations have likewise stalled. As of this writing, most of the issues with Mexico have been worked out in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But conversations with our Canadian neighbors are stuck.
Perhaps, in addition to trying to shield their dairy farmers from market competition, some of the Canadians’ reluctance is due to the US “national security threat” justification for imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from the Great White North. As I’ve always joked with my friends and colleagues north of the border, you’ve got to watch out for those Canadians!
Likewise, legislative efforts to change agricultural guest worker provisions have been stymied. Several attempts have been made to move legislation in the House of Representatives. HR 4092 morphed into HR 4760 morphed into, (for a time), HR 6136 which morphed into HR 6417.
Even the US Chamber of Commerce weighed in to oppose the “Securing America’s Future Act” over its inclusion of mandatory E-verify. Now, here we are, mere weeks from midterm elections and there is still no companion legislation to the House effort in the Senate that could capture the 60 votes necessary to pass.
And, just to top things off, the Administration had to come up with a $12 billion-dollar aid package to help some of agriculture recover a fraction of the losses being sustained by farmers because of the imposition of tariffs against US agricultural products. These retaliatory tariffs are in response to those the Administration imposed on our trading partners and, it appears there is no end in sight to this trade war.
It’s time to get something done! Agriculture has a chance to take some of this chaos into our own hands and make some fixes.
Recall, back in May, the Trump Administration in response to the effort made by NCAE, agreed to engage in reform of the H-2A agricultural guest worker program. The announcement of that regulatory reform rulemaking process will soon be published.
NCAE has been collecting information and data from our grassroots members for several months in anticipation of this opportunity. And, at our 5th Annual Ag Labor Forum in Las Vegas on November 28-30, the chairs of our H-2A Committee and our legal counsel will guide attendees through a session entitled “Evidence Development for H-2A Reform”. The goal of the session is not only to guide the NCAE evidence development for comments into this process, but to also stimulate for attendees the development of their own for submission.
This opportunity is very important, and it’s critical that everyone who employs agricultural workers weighs in. We have the chance. It’s time to get something done!