Agricultural Labor Worker Shortage Continues in Rural Areas


The 2020 inhabitants census revealed that many rural areas in the United States have seen a lower in inhabitants, whereas city and suburban areas have grown. The decline in the agricultural inhabitants has brought about agricultural labor shortages, underscoring the necessity for immigration reform.

Decreasing Rural Population in Ohio

Although Ohio and Pennsylvania aren’t the most important states for livestock processing, Ohio agribusiness continues to be in want of employees, and rural counties in Appalachia and the northwest are shedding inhabitants. Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy at Ohio State University, Mark Partridge, stated that beginning in 1930, farming areas in Ohio have been going through inhabitants loss. The migration of residents from the Appalachian areas started in the Nineteen Fifties, Partridge stated.

Cities like Cleveland, Youngstown, and Akron additionally noticed a inhabitants lower, due primarily to the decline in manufacturing items in these areas. “It’s been happening for decades,” Partridge instructed Farm and Dairy. “People move to economic opportunities.” Columbus and Cincinnati each noticed development, primarily as a result of these cities appeal to immigrants, he stated.

Both Ohio and Pennsylvania noticed development in their Hispanic and Latino populations. Though the census doesn’t account for immigrants, the rise in Hispanic and Latino populations could possibly be due to the rise in immigration. Partridge added that “There is a large immigrant population in rural areas, especially where there’s lots of food processing or agriculture.”

President of Ohio Farmers Union Joe Logan stated Ohio’s livestock processing sector isn’t as large as in some states. Still, the fruit and vegetable operations and dairy farms depend on immigrants for farm labor. On the opposite hand, Pennsylvania grows loads of specialty crops, greens, and fruits, that are labor-intensive through the harvest season. Pennsylvania can be recognized for its dairy merchandise and mushrooms, which require extra year-round labor in phrases of development and harvest. Unfortunately, the immigrant visa applications obtainable are seasonal and can’t meet the required demand for the workforce.

Farm Jobs Not in Demand Among Americans

Even with the declining inhabitants in rural areas, farm jobs fail to draw many Americans, making a have to carry in a international workforce by means of visa applications. That appears to be the one approach that farmers can fill the labor hole. The drawbacks in the immigration system, together with the pandemic, have worsened the labor scarcity. This has led to farm teams advocating for immigration and visa program reforms. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which handed the U.S. House of Representatives in March, would reform the H-2A vias program.

Much Needed Reforms to the H-2A Visa Program

The H-2A visa program is an agricultural program that brings in international labor on a seasonal foundation. Farm teams are advocating for reforms to make this visa program year-round and to extend the cap on the variety of visas in the class. Many farm teams, together with the National Farmers Union, United Fresh Produce Association, National Milk Producers Federation, and United Farm Workers, have supported the invoice.

“There are not too many issues that all farm groups agree on,” Logan stated. Still, “[a]lmost all farm groups agree we should open the [H-2A program] up and make it more friendly … one thing to make it more attractive is the prospect of having a pathway to citizenship, or at least a pathway to being a documented worker,” he added. 

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National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 278