National food security, immigration reform, and the importance of worker engagement in agricultural guestworker debates
Keywords:Farmworkers, Farm Labor, Agricultural Policy, Guestworker Programs, H-2A Program, Food Security, Immigration Reform, United States
This article looks at the United States’ federal H-2A Temporary Agricultural Visa Program and reforms proposed by the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. In this policy analysis, we draw on media content analysis and qualitative interviews to compare the viewpoints of farmers, workers, grower and worker advocacy groups, intermediary agents, and politicians. We find that perspectives on the program are dependent upon actors’ level of direct interaction with workers. Moderate-sized farmers and regionally based worker advocacy groups tend to be the most concerned with day-to-day program operations and fair working conditions. In contrast, national-level advocacy groups, intermediary agents, and politicians are less critical of the program and seek to broadly expand farmer access to guestworkers, justifying proposed program reforms with discourses of national food security and immigration reform. Ultimately, we suggest that engaging a food systems lens to understand these policies provides a more nuanced perspective, addressing national food security and immigration as related issues.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Anna Zoodsma, Mary Jo Dudley, Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern
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