Nov 21, 2019
House Committee advances Workforce Modernization Act

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 received House Judiciary approval Nov. 20

Several organizations voiced support of the committee move and said the The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019  bill marks an important step for farmers, their employees and their families

The committee approved the bill by voice vote, ahead of an expected final vote Nov. 21 to send it to the full U.S. House of Representatives.

National Council of Agricultural Employers statement

Last night on a near party line voice vote, HR 5038 the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. A roll call vote will be held this morning to confirm last night’s voice vote.

“The National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) is pleased that this important piece of legislation for agricultural employers has cleared its first hurdle.  We applaud the bipartisan effort in the House and particularly the work of Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-19th /CA) and Dan Newhouse (R- 4th/WA) for their unflagging leadership in moving the Act forward,” said Michael Marsh, President and CEO of NCAE.  “Today, we observe too rarely in the Congress, legislation which brings together both political parties.  However, this bill which has 29 Democratic and 23 Republican co-sponsors, displays for everyone what can be accomplished when the parties work together.”

“This bill, which is the result of many months’ worth of painstaking negotiations, will now move to the floor of the House.  While NCAE recognizes this legislation is not perfect, the fact that the bill is moving will allow us the opportunity to make further improvements to the legislation and mold meaningful agricultural labor reform to benefit America’s hard-working farm and ranch families,” noted Marsh.

Introducing the bill in Committee, Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren noted the overwhelming support of more than 300 farm and ranch organizations for the legislation in a letter shared with her colleagues.  She also thanked the bipartisan co-sponsors for working so diligently to craft a successful vehicle.

NCAE is the national trade association focusing on agricultural labor issues from the employer’s viewpoint.

Statement by Jim Bair, president & CEO, U.S. Apple Association

“The U.S. Apple Association applauds Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and the House Judiciary Committee for advancing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This meaningful agriculture labor reform will greatly benefit the U.S. apple industry, which is why we joined more than 300 agricultural organizations in support of the bill. The legislation is bipartisan with nearly 50 cosponsors equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will stabilize the current agricultural workforce by creating a process for them to gain work authorization to continue working in agriculture. The bill also brings needed modernization and cost containment to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program. 

“Each year growers coast to coast face uncertainty as to whether there will be sufficient labor to harvest the crop. The current system causes an unstable situation for not only apple growers, but for all farmers who depend on immigrant labor to bring Americans healthy and affordable food. A stable, legal and reliable workforce is critical if we are to continue to have a vibrant domestic apple supply.

“Time is of the essence and our growers cannot wait another harvest season for relief.  We urge Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to schedule a vote by the full House of Representatives this calendar year.”

United Fresh applauds passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The United Fresh Produce Association applauds the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H. R. 5038) by the House Judiciary Committee and urges its passage by the full House of Representatives. This legislation represents the most significant modernization of the agricultural labor system in more than three decades.

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a testament to the tenacity of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to bring much needed reform to the agriculture industry. The sustainability of American agriculture is at stake if our labor situation is not addressed,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh Produce Association. “It is imperative that the House act quickly to pass this legislation. This bipartisan bill is cosponsored by nearly two dozen Republican members of Congress, demonstrating wide support. We believe a strong vote in the House will lead the way for the Senate to follow suit to finally address the labor crisis in American agriculture.”

The bill provides much needed reforms to secure a stable and legal workforce in agriculture, allowing current farm workers to attain legal status and reforming the H-2A guest worker program to ensure a future source of workers on American farms.

Western Growers statement on committee passage of Farm Workforce Modernization Act

In response to passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act by voice vote in the House Judiciary Committee, with a recorded vote to take place tomorrow morning, Western Growers President & CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

“Western Growers applauds today’s passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the House Judiciary Committee. We thank the lead authors, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Dan Newhouse, and the bipartisan group of legislators who have negotiated and supported this bill.

“Throughout the U.S., agriculture is experiencing a critical shortage of labor that jeopardizes our ability to continue producing an abundant, safe and affordable domestic food supply. Securing a reliable and skilled workforce is critical to the future viability of America’s family farms.

“This bill does exactly that.

“By protecting existing, experienced farm workers, and streamlining the agricultural guest worker program to provide a more accessible, predictable and flexible future flow of labor, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act contains real solutions to the labor crisis facing the industry.

“This bipartisan bill, which has 29 Democratic and 23 Republican co-sponsors, has been carefully crafted through a series of difficult stakeholder-driven negotiations, and has garnered the widespread support of nearly 300 agricultural organizations across the country, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and farm worker unions.

“While the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is not perfect, we remain committed to working through the legislative process to address our outstanding concerns, and encourage to Speaker to bring this bill before the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.”

Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including half of America’s fresh organic produce. 

 California Farm Bureau Federation supports move

Committee approval of an agricultural immigration bill marks an important step for California farmers, their employees and their families, the California Farm Bureau Federation said. CFBF President Jamie Johansson welcomed today’s action by the House Judiciary Committee on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019. The committee approved the bill by voice vote, ahead of an expected final vote tomorrow to send it to the full U.S. House of Representatives.

“We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles to get here, and there’s still a long way to go, but we’re encouraged by the prospects for reform and improvement of immigration laws that would benefit agricultural employees and their families,” said Johansson, who attended the committee hearing in Washington, D.C.

Introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 would improve agricultural visa programs and accommodate immigrant agricultural employees already in the United States, while enhancing border security.

“This bipartisan bill will benefit everyone involved in agriculture. That’s why more than 300 agricultural groups and companies from across the country signed a letter this week urging congressional leaders to move the bill through the House,” Johansson said.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would improve the existing H-2A agricultural visa program and would allow immigrant agricultural employees already in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment.

“As Thanksgiving nears, there’s no more meaningful way to recognize the contribution agricultural employees make to our food supply and rural communities than to deal fairly with immigrant employees and their immediate families,” Johansson said. “We urge Speaker Pelosi to bring the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to a vote as soon as possible.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) reacts

“The House Judiciary Committee’s approval today of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a vital first step in advancing legislation to address the labor crisis being faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and growers. We would especially like to recognize the efforts of Representative Zoe Lofgren of California in shepherding this legislation through the committee process,” said NCFC President Chuck Conner “We believe that the bill has strong bipartisan support and strongly urge House leadership to take up H.R. 5038 as soon as possible.”

Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives.

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