WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives today voted in favor of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill to reform the agricultural labor system in the United States.
The product of negotiations between a diverse array of agricultural stakeholders and farmworker advocates, the legislation balances the interests of both agricultural employers and workers. For the former, it would expand access to the H-2A guest worker program by simplifying the application process, stabilizing wages with an annual cap, and establishing an option for year-round agricultural employment. For the latter, the bill would create a pathway to legal status through continued agricultural employment.
National Farmers Union (NFU), which has called for a “flexible, efficient, and compassionate agricultural worker visa program,” was among more than 300 agricultural organizations to offer formal support for the bill. In a statement, NFU President Roger Johnson applauded the bill’s passage and urged the U.S. Senate to continue working on solutions for agricultural labor issues:
“Our current farm labor system is badly broken. It’s a time-consuming, convoluted, and restrictive process for farmers and ranchers, who often don’t have the time to spare, and it’s a dead-end for farmworkers, who currently have no straightforward path for longer-term employment or legal status.
“Farmers and farmworkers alike deserve a better, fairer system – which is what the Farm Workforce Modernization Act aims to establish. Not only would it secure a legal and adequate supply of workers for family farmers and ranchers, but it would also provide stability for the farmworkers who put food on our tables. We appreciate the work of Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Dan Newhouse and the many other representatives involved in this process, and we urge the Senate to follow their lead by reaching across the aisle to address the labor challenges faced by American agriculture.”