Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned witnesses at the hearing on immigration and labor in the agriculture industry. The panel included two Iowa witnesses: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack; and Jen Sorenson of Ankeny, president of National Pork Producers Council, communications director at Iowa Select Farms and manages activities for the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation.
Grassley questioned Vilsack on how the ongoing immigration crisis is ultimately affecting farming and ranching communities located along the southern border. He specifically asked Vilsack about a recent letter that the American Farm Bureau Federation and all 50 state Farm Bureaus sent to Vilsack, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about the impact of the border crisis on farming and ranching families in border areas.
“Is USDA currently taking any action to help farming families who have experienced damage to their crops and property as a result of the border crisis? If not, does USDA have any plans to do so?” Grassley asked.
Grassley also asked Vilsack about H-2A visa access for year-round agricultural employers who are currently ineligible.
“I know you are generally supportive of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, but what is your response to employers, including some Iowa-based employers on our next witness panel, who have expressed concerns about how the bill addresses H-2A access for year-round employers and the bill’s cap on H-2A workers for year-round employers?” Grassley asked.
Grassley asked Sorenson about the importance of allowing year-round agricultural employers have access to the H2-A visa program.