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 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 workers to bring in the crops so family-owned farms can succeed, North Carolinians can continue to enjoy an abundance of local produce, and everyone benefits from the economic boost agriculture brings to our state.
When farmers cannot find enough local 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 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 it local and farm to family.
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, landscapers, and other seasonal employers in North Carolina. Some 30 percent of participating employers use the H-2A agricultural visa program; 70 percent seek non-farm seasonal workers and use the H-2B program.
The NC Growers also provides assistance to similar organizations in other states that face farm labor shortages. We offer an array of tools, templates and procedures that 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 helps farmers with outreach for local workers, and H-2A and H-2B visa processes so they 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 mediator between employers and employees during the growing season. Conflict resolution is handled by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (AFL-CIO).
The key to NC Grower's success is pooling applications - i.e., it is the association, not any individual employer, that applies for H-2 visas. Among the tasks the organization handles for employers:
1. Demonstrating a bona fide labor need
2. Certifying that every effort has been made to recruit and hire U.S. workers
3. Supplying the federal government with detailed information about wages and working conditions
4. Handle record-keeping and paperwork (with the exception of payroll)
5. Place workers on a single farm (70% of all placements) or move them from employer to employer as harvest needs change.
6. Assist with management issues and mediate disputes throughout the growing season.