US pork industry says that foreign-born workers are vital to sector

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has launched a campaign showcasing the contributions of foreign-born workers as it seeks changes to the H-2A visa program.

2 July 2021, at 7:13am

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has introduced a campaign, “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers,” highlighting the vital role of foreign-born workers across the US pork industry and the critical need for comprehensive labor reform to address a labor shortage.

“The US pork industry is highly dependent on foreign-born workers who make tremendous contributions in their jobs and communities,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Unfortunately, current visa programs don’t provide access to enough workers to meet our labor needs on farms and in plants.”

The “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers” campaign features the stories of four foreign-born workers and their employers, highlighting the essential contributions of these workers and the opportunities created by a position in the US pork industry. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country.

“There are not enough people that want to work in agriculture to fill the jobs that we have. If we’re not able to provide people to raise these animals, we’re going to have to raise less of them and that means that you’re going to pay more for that protein source,” said Michael Springer, a hog farmer from Independence, Kansas “People want to eat 365 days a year. Our current seasonal visa program does not work for livestock production because it does not put people on our farm 365 days a year to take care of the animals,” he added.

Pork producers offer jobs with good pay and benefits, but most Americans do not live near hog farms or harvest facilities and rural populations continue to decline, causing the US pork industry to be largely dependent on foreign-born workers.

Click here to learn more about NPPC’s campaign.