Agricultural groups are continuing to encourage the U.S. Senate to act on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The legislation passed through the U.S. House of Representatives back in March of 2021. During a press conference on Capitol Hill last week, several ag organizations joined lawmakers in calling on the Senate to take up the legislation. The bill would provide legal status for the current agricultural workforce.
Representatives Mike Simpson and Dan Newhouse were joined by organizations including the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, and the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) at the press conference. Representative Newhouse said that without reforms to ensure a reliable workforce “our crops will go unharvested, and our already-delicate food supply chain is placed further at risk.”
The legislation would implement reforms to the H-2A program to make it more functional for farmers and ranchers. “That is why I introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act – to address these labor shortages and ensure we have a legal and reliable workforce for all of agriculture,” said Newhouse.
Senators Mike Crapo and Mike Bennet have been leading negotiation efforts in the Senate. The Senators were thanked during the press conference for their work to attempt to get bipartisan legislation moved forward. Each of the organizations that were in attendance expressed the dire nature of implementing ag labor reform.
“IFPA members tell us that, given how difficult the current H2A process is, labor shortages are now the norm rather than the exception. A lack of skilled farm labor causes a ripple effect in the supply chain, resulting in fewer options and higher prices,” IFPA CEO Cathy Burns said in a press release. “Immigration reform is the single most important action that can be taken to give relief to Americans struggling to fight unprecedented food inflation and provide healthy food choices for their families. The cost of inaction is far too high. No one can afford to wait any longer.”