The National Pork Producers Council has released a study stating that the U.S. pork industry is facing a significant domestic labor shortage due to an aging rural labor population where hog farms and facilities are located. According to the release, from 2014-2019, the rural labor force shrank in five of eight top pork-producing states.
The study was conducted by Iowa State University and writes that to remain sustainable, the U.S. pork industry must be able to have access to more foreign-born workers.
The article states that employment in the U.S. pork industry had an annual growth rate of 1.5 percent from 2001-2020, which is four-times faster than employment growth in all U.S. industries. They emphasize that foreign-born workers have been critical to the industries economic growth, meanwhile native-born workers and permanent residents cannot offset the need for more foreign born employees.
The current visa programs put into place are seasonal, which fail to meet the demands of year-round livestock producers. To address this, NPPC is advocating for year-round access to the H-2A visa program without a cap. NPPC President Jen Sorenson testified last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee, stating “Pork production is year-round, and visa reform should reflect that.”
Last month, NPPC launched its “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers” campaign that profiles the stories of four foreign-born workers who make vital contributions to the pork industry and their communities.