The U.S. pork industry has been noting the struggles many producers across the country are having when it comes to a shortage with labor. An updated study reflecting the current state of the labor market was released by Iowa State University economists, and it notes despite competitive wages, the U.S. pork industry continues to struggle with a labor shortage that will require access to more foreign-born workers to remain sustainable. This study underscores the urgent need for agriculture labor reform, a top priority for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
The study notes from 2001-2020 employment in the U.S. pork industry grew by an annual rate of 1.5 percent, four times faster than employment growth in all U.S. industries. Despite expanded wages and jobs, the U.S. pork industry is facing a significant domestic labor shortage due to a dwindling and aging rural labor population where hog farms and harvest facilities are located. From 2014-2019, the rural labor force shrank in five of the eight top pork-producing states, it found.
To address the labor shortage, NPPC is advocating for year-round access to the H-2A visa program without a cap. Last month, NPPC launched its “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers” campaign to profile the stories of four foreign-born workers who make vital contributions to the U.S. pork industry and their communities.
More information is available on the NPPC website.