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Farm Workforce Modernization Act to Lower Food Inflation

Farm Workforce Modernization Act to Lower Food Inflation

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today offered a statement on The Cato Institute’s finding that the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would reduce food inflation by “increasing the number of legal foreign workers available to farms, increasing food production, and lowering prices for all consumers.”

“This is one concrete step Congress can take to combat the rampant inflation sparked by the Biden Administration’s disastrous economic policies,” said Congressman Simpson. “This bill will help farmers get the workforce they need to bring supply up and prices down. As inflation continues to burden Americans, I am confident this bill will provide stability and fairness to our nation’s food industry and American consumers alike. I look forward to seeing the Senate pass this bill and getting it signed into law.”

The report notes that food prices have increased 11.4 percent over the last year—the fastest rate in over four decades; agricultural unemployment reached 3.1 percent this summer; and that the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would reduce labor costs for H‑2A farms by about $1 billion in the first year and $1.8 billion in the second, which would result in many more workers being hired, more productivity, and lower prices for consumers.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, coauthored and sponsored by Congressman Simpson, has passed the House of Representatives in 2019 and 2021, and now awaits further action by the U.S. Senate. The bill makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.

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.

For more information, read a summary of H.R. 1603 here or Cato’s full article here.