Farm Labor Package Introduced in the House

Joel Hastings

Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) held a press conference Oct. 30 introducing  comprehensive legislation to update ag labor programs for immigrant farmworkers. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented farmworkers who have been working in agriculture for at least two years and plan to continue in their jobs.  It would also establish a mandatory E-Verify system nationwide for farm employers.

For dairy and other producers needing year around workers, the bill would allow that, providing an additional 40,000 green cards granting three-year visas for workers on those operations.

At the press conference, dairy producer Mike McCloskey of Fair Oaks Farms said, “This bill addresses every single issue we have had with H2A.”  Speaking for the National Milk Producers Federation, he said it would not only help farmers and farm workers but also “will keep rural America vibrant.”

Also speaking was Arturo Rodriguez of the United Farm Workers who agreed that this bill would offer benefits to workers and their families.

Congress Member Lofgren said that the bill was crafted by both Democrats and Republicans as well as growers and workers. It was explained that the House Judiciary Committee will need to approve the bill before it’s voted on by the House and must be passed in the Senate before it can be submitted for the president’s signature.  No timeline for this process was offered, but Lofgren said supporters will be working to move it forward.

National Milk Producers Federation and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative in Wisconsin are two dairy groups that have already put out press releases supporting the bill.

A summary of the bill’s provisions can be found here.


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