Idaho has a long history of being a hardworking state that puts food on tables across the country. Besides potatoes, farmers in Idaho grow more hard white wheat than any other state, as well as huge portions of our supply of other fruits and vegetables, all parts of an industry worth more than $1 trillion nationally.
The farmers and ranchers of Idaho have kept their long workdays, alongside their employees, amid the challenges of the past year and the dangers of the pandemic. We need Congress to help our industry by reforming the visa and immigration system that allows the workers we need to come to the United States.
As a dairyman, I know the current H-2A visa program does little to help due to its narrow, seasonal definition of approved agriculture immigrant workers. Dairy is Idaho’s number one ag industry, representing $9.1 billion — one-third of the states agriculture economy. To staff that industry, 6,800 jobs are filled by immigrant workers. These workers help create 30,000+ additional support jobs that depend on the 15 billion pounds of milk supplied by foreign dairy workers.
Senators Crapo and Risch should work to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, already passed by the U.S. House, to reform our work visa program and create a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented workers who are already contributing to our industry and economy. We must fix the supply chain to keep food on tables across America.