Meat Industry Seeks Longer-Term Visas for Ag Workers

The U.S. Meat Industry Coalition wants Congress to create a visa program for foreigners willing to work year-round on poultry farms or in meatpacking and processing plants that's valid for at least three-years. The industry says this will assure a stable and permanent workforce for farm labor. National Chicken Council President Mike Brown says a longer-term visa is needed to offset the expense of training meat industry workers. He also suggests workers could apply for visa extensions - with a path to permanency. The Agriculture Workforce Coalitions says undocumented agricultural workers should be granted work authorization carrying a minimum commitment to agriculture for a five-year set term. After that - they could work under the Ag card - giving them legal status to work in the U.S. - or access immigration channels to adjust to a permanent status. Many of the 1.5-million agricultural laborers in the U.S. are thought to be undocumented - and House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte says designing a work program for ag is a critical part of overall U.S. immigration reform.

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