As the U.S. House of Representatives continues discussion on proposed immigration legislation, the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) says it cannot support a part of the bill that addresses agricultural employees.
Now before Congress, H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act, would fund a border wall and address internal immigration enforcement and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It also includes an Agricultural Guestworker Act, or AG Act, which would create a new agricultural visa program.
CFBF President Jamie Johansson said the AG Act, in its current form, contains a number of features that would harm the current immigrant employees on whom California farms and ranches depend. In addition, it would mandate use of the E-Verify electronic workplace-eligibility system, which could affect a large proportion of current agricultural employees.
“As now written, the AG Act just wouldn’t work for California farms and ranches,” Johansson said. “There’s a longstanding need to create a workable temporary-visa program for agriculture that provides greater stability and opportunities for agricultural employees and their families. The AG Act would cause too much disruption for our employees and our communities.”
Johansson said CFBF and other organizations have offered a number of recommendations for creating a more practical and flexible program to allow people from other countries to enter the U.S. to work on farms and ranches.
“We know the American Farm Bureau and other national agricultural organizations have decided to support the AG Act, and they have every right to do so,” Johansson said. “But as the largest agricultural organization in the largest agricultural state, we must advocate for a solution that works for our members and their employees. For California farmers and ranchers, the combination of the AG Act and E-Verify would actually worsen chronic agricultural employee shortages. We will press for a better solution.”
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 40,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.