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Farm Workforce Modernization Act Passes House

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) helped negotiate and write H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which passed the House of Representatives today on a bipartisan vote of 260-165-1. The bill makes significant changes to the H-2A visa program including allowing year round workers that are vital to the nations struggling dairy farmers. The bill allows farmers to transition to a fully legal workforce and is coupled with mandatory E-Verify after the bill is fully implemented. 

“I’m happy to see a good, commonsense, and bipartisan bill pass the House that is fair to farmers, farmworkers, and to U.S. citizens. In California, and across the U.S., farmers have been calling for a reliable and legally documented workforce for years. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses these issues in a constructive manner that provides much-needed certainty for workers and farmers. It ensures those crossing the border for agricultural work can do so with legal documentation – which is better for all, including the rule of law.” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa. “Today’s strong vote in the House should help ensure the Senate will continue the effort we started.”

“The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation. But, farmworkers across the country are living and working with uncertainty and fear, contributing to the destabilization of farms across the nation,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “Our bill offers stability for American farms by providing a path to legal status for farmworkers. In addition, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses the nation’s future labor needs by modernizing an outdated system for temporary workers, while ensuring fair wages and workplace conditions. I urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead and swiftly pass the first-of-its-kind bipartisan immigration compromise in decades that improves America’s agricultural labor programs and laws.”

The bill has garnered the wide-spread support of more than 300 agriculture groups and labor organizations.

“The passage of legislation that helps address dairy’s unique workforce challenges is certainly a milestone and an opportunity we must pursue to the fullest,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Agricultural labor reform is long overdue. With today’s action it is now imperative that the Senate act to fully address the needs of dairy farmers and all of agriculture, helping farmers do what they do best: feed our nation, and the world.” 

“Today is a milestone because this is the first time in decades that the full House, under either party, has enacted an agricultural labor immigration bill,” said Arturo S. Rodriguez, President Emeritus, United Farm Workers. “This bill will help bring stability to agricultural workers and to the agricultural industry. Experienced and professional agricultural workers— who have earned the right to a stable future in the United States for themselves and their families—will be liberated from the pervasive fear they face every day while performing one of the toughest jobs in America.”

“House passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act today is an important first step towards solving one of most significant challenges facing farmers and ranchers today. The legislation points the way towards achieving many of the long-standing immigration reform goals of NCFC and others in agriculture. The sponsors should be recognized for their leadership on this issue. We look forward to continued engagement in the legislative process now that the bill has passed the House and will be sent to the Senate.” – Chuck Conner, president and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

Background:

Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guest-worker program is in need of meaningful, bipartisan reform.  The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a workforce solution for America’s agriculture industry by providing stability, predictability, and fairness to one of the most critical sectors of our nation’s economy.

The bill will:

  • Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
  • Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
  • Establish mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.

The full list of cosponsors includes: Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV-02); Rep. James Baird (R-IN- 04); Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37); Rep. Anthony Brindisi(D-NY-22); Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN-05); Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24); Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29); Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27); Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-04); Rep. Luis J. Correa (D-CA-46); Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-16); Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA-21); Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02); Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO-6); Rep. Henry Cuellar  (D-TX-28); Rep. John Curtis  (R-UT-03); Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13); Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13); Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19); Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25); Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16); Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1); Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11); Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA-3); Rep. Sylvia Garcia  (D-TX-29); Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07); Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA-10); Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3); Rep. Peter King (R-NY-2); Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01); Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL-05); Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05); Rep. Paul Mitchell  (R-MI-10); Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10); Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04); Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22); Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-1); Rep. Jimmy Panetta  (D-CA-20); Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52); Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN-07); Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1); Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23); Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36); Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38); Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05); Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA-08) ; Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID-02); Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08); Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-11); Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07); Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19); Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21); Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT-2); Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15); Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY-3); Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5); Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO-3); Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35); Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-02); Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI-06); Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX-34); Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-02); and Rep. Don Young  (R-AK- At Large).

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.

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