Earlier this week President Trump hosted a roundtable of farmers at the White House to discuss issues facing agriculture.
The panel of 14 people included farmers, one national FFA officer and the newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
“We had a very diverse group not only in regard to production agriculture but also diversity in regard to gender, ethnicity and age,” says Hank Choate, a seventh-generation dairy and row crop farmer near Cement City, Mich.
The group discussed many of the issues farmers are currently up against including immigration, labor, trade, regulation and infrastructure.
Choate says the discussion on immigration was encouraging and that it seems the President began to have a clearer picture of the need for reform.
The farmers in the group made it abundantly clear that many of the immigrant workers on farms have been working for those farms for a long time and are law abiding citizens.
According to Choate, Mr. Trump said the administration will develop a program that not only gives security and piece of mind to those workers but will also provide farmers the skilled labor they need.
The H2A Visa program was also a hot topic during the discussion. A nursery grower from Ohio shared how it had been harder for him to hire employees through the program as the number of visas accessible had been reduced under the Obama administration.
Choate says the President turned to Sonny Perdue and asked that problem be addressed as soon as possible.
Maybe there’s hope for immigration reform that benefits farmers after all.