WASHINGTON, D.C. – Like many industries, the agriculture industry is facing a labor issue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said there are thousands of job openings each year and more people need to replace those who are changing careers or retiring. One Pennsylvania congressional member believes his piece of legislation could help incentivize young people to get into the industry.
“The legislation is really important because it speaks to the future of agriculture,” said Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R- PA).
Congressman Thompson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, said one of his top concerns he hears from people across the US is we’re facing a labor shortage in the agriculture industry.
“The issue is about who is going to be there to work on the farm and take over the farm,” said Rep. Thompson.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they expect an average of a little more than 140-thousand openings for agriculture workers each year for the next few years. The BLS said most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or retire.
“The average age of a farmer is 57 and a half years old so it raises the question who will be providing us for food, fiber, our building materials, our energy resources in the future,” said Rep. Thompson.
To fill those spots and replace outgoing agriculture workers, Rep. Thompson is sponsoring the “Young Farmers Success Act”. It’s legislation he believes will incentivize people to get into the industry.
“Essentially, they would have to work in agriculture for at least ten years, they would make payments and then after ten years they would be able to have their loans forgiven,” said Rep. Thompson.
The model is similar to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program where after students finish their education and complete a certain amount of service work, their student loans will be forgiven.
Thompson said his goal is to find homegrown solutions to address problems like this one.
“It’s really a reward for those folks who want to work hard to provide us all the things in life we need that are essential starting with our food,” said Rep. Thompson.