Press Releases

Over 300 Agriculture Groups Send Letter of Support for Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Washington, November 18, 2019

Over 300 Agriculture Groups Send Letter of Support for Farm Workforce Modernization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, over 300 agriculture groups sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in support of H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill spearheaded by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), Mike Simpson (R-ID-02), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25). The bipartisan effort was negotiated over several months with input from agricultural stakeholders and labor organizations and was introduced with the support of 26 Democrats and 23 Republicans.

Click here to read the letter.

“As foreign producers take advantage of our labor shortage and gain market share, America will export not only our food production but also thousands of these farm-dependent jobs. Securing a reliable and skilled workforce is essential, not only for the agriculture industry but for the U.S. economy as a whole,” reads the letter.

The letter continues, “The House must pass legislation that preserves agriculture’s experienced workforce by allowing current farm workers to earn legal status. For future needs, legislation must include an agricultural worker visa program that provides access to a legal and reliable workforce moving forward.”

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is scheduled to be marked up by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, November 20, at 10:00 AM EST.

Click here for a one-pager & click here for bill text.

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was negotiated over eight months by a bipartisan group of Members with stakeholders on all sides of the issue, including farming associations and the United Farm Workers union,” said Rep. Lofgren. “We’re in the process of providing stability for the people who get food to our table because of the agricultural employers, associations and the UFW who came to the table ready to compromise. As the Judiciary Committee gets ready to consider our bipartisan bill, this letter showcases how essential it is for Congress to work together to address our nation’s future farm labor needs.”

 “The support and guidance of agricultural stakeholders and industry groups was absolutely vital as we negotiated and introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Now, as the bill continues to move through Congress, I am grateful these groups are stepping up to let House leadership know how important this bipartisan effort is for farmers across the United States who are facing a critical labor shortage.”

“The agriculture community is the backbone of Idaho’s economy,” said Rep. Simpson. “Having their input throughout this process has been key to ensuring this legislation meets their needs for a legal workforce. I am pleased that hundreds of groups across the country are lending their voices to pass this critical bill and I look forward to continuing to work with them through the legislative process to provide our farmers and ranchers with a solution to their workforce needs.”

“Agriculture stakeholders’ support and guidance was crucial for us to craft and introduce the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. I look forward to their continued advocacy as we work to get this over the finish line. This bipartisan bill will offer much-needed stability and fairness for farms and farmworkers across America,” said Rep. Panetta.

“The bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act would not be possible without the backing of our agriculture industry. I’m happy that we’ve crafted a piece of legislation that is overwhelmingly supported by hundreds of industry groups and stakeholders from around the country, including California. Additionally, this bill will benefit the farmers and farm workers themselves by ensuring all workers have documentation. Our Ag sector needs a stable and reliable workforce in order to continue feeding and clothing the nation, and with this legislation, we hope to finally provide that,” said Rep. LaMalfa.

“For far too long, our nation’s farmers have suffered from a broken H-2A visa system that has made it difficult to hire the necessary personnel to provide to the American people,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the only viable, bipartisan solution that can move in the House and address this issue, which is not only of economic importance, but of national security importance as well. I encourage my colleagues to pass this important legislation – let’s strengthen our economy and national security by continuing to grow and produce our own food, while legally providing permanence to our agricultural workers.”  

Background:

Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guestworker program is in need of meaningful, bipartisan reform.  The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a workforce solution for America’s agriculture industry by providing stability, predictability, and fairness to one of the most critical sectors of our nation’s economy.

The bill will:

  • Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
  • Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
  • Establish mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.

 

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