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Buckeye Farm News
Final H-2A rules not good for agriculture
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has expressed disappointment in the announcement by the Labor Department in changes to the H-2A temporary worker program. According to AFBF President Bob Stallman, the new program will be the most difficult ever for agricultural employers to administer. One change would require farmer employers who seek H-2A visas for agriculture workers to show documented evidence that they first looked for qualified U.S. citizens to fill the jobs. Previously they only had to indicate they had looked for qualified workers. “There continues to be a labor shortage in U.S. agriculture and agricultural employers need an efficient, affordable temporary program to help put food on American’s table,” Stallman said. “It is the right policy of the United States to require that only those who are legally eligible to work in this country should be given U.S. jobs, But since there haven’t been, for several years, enough legal workers in the U.S. to meet the demand of U.S. agricultural employers, it is the responsibility of the administration and Congress to authorize a useful program that enables capable, dependable and willing employees to come to the U.S. temporarily to do the jobs that domestic workers don’t want.”
Farm Bureau urges passage of business relief act
AFBF is urging members of the Senate to promptly pass the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act. This bill includes many important farm-related tax relief provisions such as renewable energy tax incentives, provisions to maintain vital health care services and emergency disaster assistance. In a recent letter to Senate members, AFBF President Bob Stallman outlined the provisions within this bill that Farm Bureau supports.
AFBF opposes government procurement legislation
A new bill has been introduced in the U.S. House that would limit the federal government from purchasing animal products that are not “humanely” produced. “The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act,” HR 4733, was introduced by Reps. Diane Watson, D-Calif., and Elton Gallegly, R-Calif. American Farm Bureau Federation has sent a letter to all House offices expressing their opposition to this bill. “The legislation is based on the presumption that farm animals are not routinely treated humanely. This premise is flawed and grossly unfair to America’s family farmers and ranchers,” said Bob Stallman, AFBF president. “On the contrary, modern animal agriculture has a consistent commitment to the best possible animal care and millions of research dollars have been committed to assuring the latest science-tested welfare practices. Every major U.S. livestock and poultry group has either a professionally developed, science-based quality assurance program incorporating proven welfare standards, or has created specific science-based animal welfare practices to which their members adhere.” If this legislation is adopted, it would exclude operations that use hen cages or gestation stalls and most other confinement practices, except farrowing crates, from being eligible for programs such as the School Lunch Program, prisons and Department of Defense procurement. The bill lists several welfare standards, including shelter, which allows the animals to stand, lie down, walk and turn around completely and fully extending all limbs or wings without touching any part of the enclosure or other animal. AFBF is encouraging Farm Bureau members to contact their U.S. representatives and ask them to not co-sponsor this bill.