Perdue says USDA can help craft farmworker bill

Published online: Aug 19, 2017 News
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U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says his department has the opportunity to help the Trump Administration craft a legal farmworker bill.

Speaking to reporters in south-central Minnesota as part of his “Back to Our Roots” RV tour, Perdue expressed a desire to provide more labor certainty to farmers.

“We know that it’s not necessarily as critical in a cash grain type of operation because that’s very mechanical. But when you get to dairy (ag labor) sure is (critical). And those programs we have with H2A right now are just not workable with dairy, and we’re already working on some solutions with Congress in that.”

He says there could also be some interim regulatory fixes to make the H2A program more effective.

“We’re working with Secretary Acosta in Labor (as well as) Department of Homeland Security and Secretary of State.  (the H2A Program) is just kind of a jumble right now, frankly.”

And Perdue scoffed at the notion that higher wages would solve the problem.

“My grandkids aren’t going to work like I worked, and we know that today. They’re not going to get out here and do the things that I did and we expect of our agricultural workers today.”