The Farm Workforce Modernization Act has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Dan Newhouse introduced the legislation that is designed to reform the H-2A agricultural guest-worker program. It marks the second time that Congress will be addressing the bill. Multiple agricultural groups have been supportive of the efforts to simplify the H-2A application process.
“Two critical needs for agriculture are addressed in this legislation. First, it provides a mechanism to ensure that farming operations can retain existing, experienced workers. Secondly, the bill reforms the visa program to secure a reliable future flow of guest workers,” Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said in a news release. “Additionally, after a satisfactory transition period, it includes E-Verify for agricultural employers, demonstrating our industry’s commitment to a long-term labor solution.”
The National Milk Producers Federation, California Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council, and California Fresh Fruit Association are among the industry groups supportive of the legislation. Among the many provisions of the legislation, it would modify the current H-2A program to allow a capped number of visas for farmworkers to work year-round. The legislation also seeks to create the first merit-based visa program that is specifically designed for the agriculture industry.
“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act introduced by Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) is a testament to the efforts the agriculture industry and our friends in labor and the bipartisan members of Congress who are supporting this legislation,” CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, Tom Stenzel said in a press release. “There remains work to be done to address our industry’s labor challenges. But this bill is an integral first step towards achieving our ultimate goal. United Fresh Produce Association and its members have pushed for this reform for many years and we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to make it a reality.”