WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On Thursday, some leaders in the Kansas agriculture industry are asking for legislatures to pass a bill for a larger workforce.

Nick Krehbiel, the Chief Operating Officer of the Kanza Cooperative Association, said there is just a limited pool of potential employees in some of these rural areas. He also said a Visa program designed to supply additional employees doesn’t work fast enough.

“As a result, we are not fully staffed in some of our critical jobs that we have,” said Krehbiel.

The need for a larger workforce, Krehbiel said that the workforce the agriculture industry needs is no longer around, and the H-2A visa program takes too long to have extra workers.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the H-2A is a temporary agricultural program that “allows agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.”

“We’ve been working on our applications since January of this year, and we’re still not at a point that we’re able to submit anything to find out whether the Department of Labor is going to approve us or not,” said Krehbiel.

On Thursday, many agriculture leaders from Kansas and Missouri meet to push forward the farm workforce modernization act, a bill that has yet to be passed that would allow farms in need of year-round workers to hire foreign workers, potential legalization of temp workers with experience in the farm work, and streamline the application process.

“We want local people. We’d love to have local people coming in would be our number one option to work, but being as we can’t find anybody like that. I’ve had the opportunity in the past to work with H-2A programs and stuff with my previous employment. Really good programs, you get some really good people through that program, and they really want to work,” said Rusty Morehaeb, the general manager of the Farmers Co-Op in Cheney.

Krehbiel said there are people willing to work in our agriculture industry, and having more workers could mean prices dropping at the grocery store.

Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) released the following statement:

“Our agriculture industry helps drive the state’s economy and feeds a hungry world. As we face a workforce shortage for farming and ranching, I will continue to review legislation and innovative ways to meet this shortage and bolster our agriculture industry in Kansas.”