The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 that was introduced by Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Dan Newhouse is receiving significant support from the agricultural industry. The bipartisan bill seeks to reform the ag labor system through improvements to the H-2A agricultural visa program and assist immigrant farm laborers already working in the U.S.
“This comprehensive legislation contains key elements that address current and future workforce needs for agricultural employers and employees in California and throughout the nation,” said California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson. “Improvements to the H-2A program would make it much more flexible and valuable to California farm employers and employees.”
The legislation is being touted as being more accommodating for employers, while simultaneously providing protection for foreign workers and ensuring border security. The bill is being supported by several other House members and was developed with input from a multitude of agricultural stakeholders, as well as farmworker advocates.
“The introduction of this bill, which is the product of many months of dedicated work and careful negotiation between legislators, staff, and key stakeholders, constitutes an agreement that few thought was possible,” said Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. “We, along with our Congressional champions and partners in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, commit ourselves to move the Farm Workforce Modernization Act forward this legislative session.”
Altogether, the bill has received support from nearly 250 different agriculture groups and labor organizations. Other provisions of the legislation include the development of a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for agricultural employment, as well as provides a pathway for legal status through continued ag employment.
“Many family farmers and ranchers rely on hired farmworkers to help with planting, harvest, milking cows, and other essential tasks. But across the country, it has become exceedingly difficult to find legal, qualified workers,” said Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for the National Farmers Union, Rob Larew. “National Farmers Union supports this bipartisan effort to address the needs of both farmers and workers, and we urge its swift passage in the House of Representatives.”