Agriculture/agribusiness is North Carolina’s top industry.
The North Carolina Growers Association (NC Growers) makes it easier for farmers to keep growing food in the United States by providing a stable, legal and reliable workforce. Many crops like sweet potatoes, blackberries, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, and Christmas trees are fragile and can’t be harvested by machines. We need seasonal farm workers to bring in the crops so small family-owned farms can succeed, Americans can continue to enjoy an abundance of domestic produce, and everyone benefits from the economic boost and national security continued food production brings to our nation.
When farmers cannot find enough workers, they turn to NC Growers. As the nation’s largest user of the agricultural “guest worker” program, we provide our members with a supplemental foreign workforce that is legal, reliable, and ready to ensure that crops are planted, maintained, and harvested in a timely fashion. NC Growers is an essential part of how many North Carolina farmers keep the family farm sustainable.
86.7% of NC farms are owned by individuals or families
NC is the #1 producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S.
NC Growers serves farmers, including sweet potato farmers, Christmas tree growers, blackberry, blueberry and strawberry growers, tobacco growers, nurseries, and many other seasonal farm employers in North Carolina. Approximately 30 percent of NC agricultural employers rely on the H-2A agricultural visa program to keep farming.
The NC Growers is always happy to share what we've learned with farmers and organizations in other states that face farm labor shortages. What we've learned can be applied elsewhere - there's no need for other states to reinvent the wheel. Contact us if your organization would like to learn more.
NC is 9th in total farm cash receipts ($10.6B in 2016)
93.2% of farms in NC are under 500 acres in size
NC Growers assists our members in complying with the hyper technical requirements of the federal H-2A Program including recruitment of local workers and facilitation of foreign H-2A workers through the cumbersome visa application process so our farmers have workers lined up when the crops are ready to harvest. NC Growers submits the paperwork on behalf of farmers, deals with the federal government, helps farmers understand and meet their legal requirements, coordinates arrangements for selected guest workers, and acts as a problem solving mediator between employers and employees during the growing season.
The key to NC Grower's success is pooling grower resources and maximizing efficiencies - i.e., it is the association along with the individual farmers, that applies for H-2A visas. Among the tasks the organization handles for employers:
1. Demonstrating a bona fide labor shortage through the complicated H-2A application process
2. Certifying that every required effort has been made to recruit and hire U.S. workers
3. Supplying the government, domestic and foreign workers with detailed disclosures about wages and working conditions
4. Assist farms with regulatory compliance, especially record-keeping and paperwork
5. Placement of workers on a single farm (85% of all workers) or move them from farm to farm as harvest needs change. 92% of all H-2A workers return annually through the preferred worker program.
6. Assist with labor management issues and mediate disputes throughout the growing season.