Labor shortages continue to have a negative impact on Indiana’s farms and ag industry. That’s why one ag organization is trying to bring solutions to the table.

“The frustrating part is that we continue to hear the outcry from farm country that these issues need to be addressed, and unfortunately, there seems to be little action taking place,” says John Walt Boatright, Director of Government Affairs with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). He says that’s the reason why AFBF President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall sent off a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Acting Secretary Julie Su asking for farm labor policy changes from both agencies.

“The real goal is also to continue a productive and meaningful conversation, to recognize these challenges, admit that there needs to be action taken, and how do we as a group of people try to improve the situation, from policymakers within their agencies to the industry really looking at solving this problem? So, our goal really is to continue to engage in a thoughtful dialogue about these issues.”

Boatwright says that Duvall has brought forth specific policy changes that could help solve many of the farm labor challenges.

“The first is USDA has a purview over the farm labor survey, which determines the wage rates for the H2A Program,” he says. “We asked them to really reevaluate and look at the farm labor survey to make improvements in those areas. And then the second major thing that we asked for from the Department of Labor is a willingness and an interest to really engage with farmers and ranchers and understand the challenges that they’re faced with.”

Unfortunately, Boatright says the stalemate on these policy discussions has gone on for too long.

“Nothing of late has happened pertaining specifically to agricultural labor. So, we’re hopeful that this type of engagement will help jump-start some of those conversations,” says Boatright.

Click HERE to read the full letter from American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall.