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Simpson’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act Passes House

Simpson’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act Passes House

 

Washington, D.C. - The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bill coauthored and sponsored by Congressman Mike Simpson, today passed in the House of Representatives with a strong bipartisan vote of 247 – 174.  The bill, which was first introduced in 2019, would provide agriculture workforce stability by allowing current workers that ability to get right with the law and reforming the H-2A visa program to provide more flexibility for employers. 

“I am proud to sponsor the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which will provide much-needed relief for farmers in Idaho,” said Simpson.  “Workforce uncertainty in eastern Idaho hurts both producers and consumers alike, and this bill sets us on the right path towards ending the workforce crisis, stabilizing rural economies, and discouraging illegal border crossings.  Simply put, this bill is good for agriculture, good for Idaho, and good for our country, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to get it signed into law.”

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act gives year-round agricultural employers, like dairymen, access to a visa program for the first time,” said Rick Naerebout, Chief Executive Officer of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.  “The reality is that the dairy industry is heavily dependent on a foreign-born workforce, with 90-percent of our on-farm employees coming from outside the United States, despite competitive wages and prioritization of domestic workers.  We applaud Congressman Simpson on his continued pursuit of this bipartisan solution that meets the needs of Idaho's dairy industry.”

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a necessary step in the process of having a stable, sufficient and skilled labor force to ensure that Idaho potatoes can continue to be delivered to consumers around the world”, said Patrick Kole of the Idaho Potato Commission. "All of our industry sincerely appreciates the hard work of Representative Simpson and his staff in getting us to this point so that the process can hopefully advance to the U.S. Senate.”

“We support agriculture in the state of Idaho and understand there’s a need for consistent workforce,” said Cameron Mulrony, Executive Vice President of the Idaho Cattle Association.  “We hope this type of legislation can provide that for all of agriculture in the state.”

“Immigration reform is long overdue, and a stable and legal workforce is required to ensure Idaho and the United States will continue have an abundant, safe, secure, and affordable food supply,” said Stacey Satterlee, President of the Food Producers of Idaho.  “We thank Representative Simpson for his tireless work on this issue that is so critical to Idaho agriculture.”

“The Idaho Chamber Alliance is pleased to join with industries across Idaho in supporting Congressman Simpson as he reintroduces the Farm Workforce Modernization Act,” said Chip Schwarze, Chairperson for the Idaho Chamber Alliance.  “Our agriculture community is vital to the success of all Idaho businesses.  The need for qualified workforce spans every aspect of business in Idaho and these reforms provide support for the economy of our entire state.”

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.

 

The bill has garnered support from over 250 agriculture organizations.

 

Click here to read a summary of the bill.

 

Click here for bill text.

 

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