Ag Leaders Support Farm Workforce Modernziation Act
October 31, 2019
New Farm Workforce Act Would Be Big Step to Immigration Reform
Noting that California farmers and ranchers have long sought reforms and improvements to immigration laws that would enhance the lives of agricultural employees and their families, the California Farm Bureau Federation said it supports a bipartisan bill introduced today.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., would improve agricultural visa programs and accommodate immigrant agricultural employees already in the United States, while assuring border security.
“This comprehensive legislation contains key elements that address current and future workforce needs for agricultural employers and employees in California and throughout the nation,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “The reforms in the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 will provide much-needed solutions for agricultural employers and employees.”
The act would allow immigrant agricultural employees in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment.
“We need to deal fairly with the existing agricultural workforce and their immediate families,” Johansson said. “The people who work on farms and ranches are valued members of rural communities. Their contributions to our communities and our food system should be recognized by allowing them a chance to gain legal status.”
The bill would also modernize and streamline the existing H-2A agricultural visa program, to provide more flexibility for employers and ensure critical protections for foreign employees.
“Improvements to the H-2A program would make it much more flexible and valuable to California farm employers and employees,” Johansson said. “For example, a pilot program in the bill would allow H-2A employees to move from farm to farm for employment, a portability option California producers have long sought. And, for the first time, the bill would accommodate guestworker visas for year-round operations such as dairies and nurseries.”
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.
From California Citrus Mutual
It is with great excitement that California Citrus Mutual announces our support for the "Farm Workforce Modernziation Act" introduced today by Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren, chair of the Judiciary Committee.
"We applaud Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and members of the California congressional delegation that provided leadership on this critical issue," states California Citrus Mutual President Casey Creamer. "The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a pathway to securing a legal workforce now and in the future while also providing stability and security to our employees and their families.
"This legislation is critical to the sustainability of the fresh produce industry and our continued ability to grow fresh and healthy citrus products in California. The existing system is out-of-date and does not meet the needs of employers or employees. We must put aside political differences and create a reasonable solution. California Citrus Mutual remains committed to working with our partners, Representative Lofgren, and members of Congress to resolve outstanding concerns and reach a deal that can supported in the United States Senate and signed by the President," continues Creamer.
From Western Growers Association
“On behalf of Western Growers members, farmers across the country who depend on an adequate supply of labor for their livelihoods, and American consumers who prefer a safe and secure domestic food supply, we wish to thank Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Dan Newhouse for approaching the agricultural labor crisis in a thorough, practical and bipartisan manner.
“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses two critical needs for American agriculture – to retain existing, experienced workers and to ensure a reliable future flow of guest workers. Furthermore, after a satisfactory transition period, the bill includes E-Verify for agricultural employers, demonstrating the commitment our industry has made toward a long-term labor solution.
“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. However, this is just the beginning. What lies ahead is a very important process that will require the support of both political parties and the President.
“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act has the resounding support of the agriculture community, and contains principles that have historically received backing on both sides of the aisle. We, along with our Congressional champions and partners in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, commit ourselves to moving the Farm Workforce Modernization Act forward this legislative session.”