National food security, immigration reform, and the importance of worker engagement in agricultural guestworker debates

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.009

Keywords:

Farmworkers, Farm Labor, Agricultural Policy, Guestworker Programs, H-2A Program, Food Security, Immigration Reform, United States

Abstract

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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Author Biographies

Anna Zoodsma, Syracuse University

M.S.; Food Studies

Mary Jo Dudley, Cornell University

Director, Cornell Farmworker Program

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, Syracuse University

Associate Professor, Food Studies

Published

2022-08-08

How to Cite

Zoodsma, A., Dudley, M. J., & Minkoff-Zern, L.-A. (2022). National food security, immigration reform, and the importance of worker engagement in agricultural guestworker debates. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(4), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.009

Issue

Section

Open Call Paper

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