Last updated on May 2nd, 2017 at 03:42 pm
Maureen Torrey of Torrey Farms in Elba, New York, a United Fresh Produce Association member and former board chair of the group, participated in an April 25 roundtable discussion at the White House with President Trump and new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue regarding the policy needs of rural America and the agriculture industry.
The meeting set the stage for the president’s executive order signed last week that establishes an interagency task force to examine a wide range of issues affecting the quality of life in rural America.
Specifically, according to the White House, “The task force is ordered to identify legislative, regulatory or policy changes to promote American agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and quality of life in rural America.”
The task force is set to convene within the coming weeks.
Torrey said the roundtable discussion with Trump, Perdue and farmers from across the country was productive and covered a number of topics important to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. The president was “engaged and made it clear that he expects Secretary Perdue to be very active in addressing agriculture’s policy priorities,” according to Torrey.
“I believe the president appreciates how important agriculture is to the overall well-being of this country,” said Torrey. “He said that he understands how important it is for farmers to be viable in the marketplace and it was encouraging to hear him tell Secretary Perdue that, with respect to immigration enforcement, workers who are here and have not caused any problems, but have been productive workers, should not have anything to fear. I was also pleased to hear him acknowledge that the current federal agriculture guest worker program, H-2A, is broken and needs fixing. It was also good to hear him say that there needs to be a year-round solution to agriculture’s labor needs and to hear him talk about the need for a skilled agriculture worker program.”