Study shows pork industry needs more access to foreign-born workforce

Labor shortages continue to create challenges for America’s pork producers.  According to a recent study by Iowa State University economists, access to more foreign-born workers is a necessity for the industry to remain sustainable.

Shana Beattie is pork producer and president of the Nebraska Pork Producers.  “We’re talking about producing food for our country and we do need that workforce,” she says.  “We need to cooperatively work with our government so we are provided with foreign workers.”

National Pork Producers Council president Jen Sorenson of Iowa says current visa programs, like the H-2A visa don’t meet the needs of US pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers.  She says NPPC continues to advocate for year-round access to the H-2A visa program without a cap. 

NPPC launched its “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers” campaign last month to profile the stories of four foreign-born workers who play a vital role in the US pork industry and their communities. 

According to the study, despite expanded wages and jobs, the US pork industry faces significant domestic labor shortages due to aging rural labor populations where hog farms and processing facilities are located.  With five of the eight top pork-producing states experiencing a contraction of the rural labor force from 2014 to 2019. 

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