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Bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act Passes the House of Representatives

Dec 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill led by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), and cosponsored by Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a 260-165 vote.

“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 In addition, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses the nation’s future labor needs by modernizing an outdated system for temporary workers, while ensuring fair wages and workplace conditions.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.”

“Creating a legal and reliable workforce for American agriculture has been one of my highest priorities since coming to Congress,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse. “Our farmers and ranchers facing a labor crisis need relief, and the men and women who contribute to our nation’s agriculture industry need certainty. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the first step. This bill is our opportunity to finally provide stability to America’s farms and a significant improvement over the status quo. I am grateful to Representative Lofgren, our bipartisan coalition, and all of the agriculture and labor groups who helped draft the bill, and I encourage input from my colleagues as we continue working to improve this legislation in the Senate.”

“The American agriculture industry is vital to our economic success. For years, outdated immigration laws have created an environment of uncertainty for farmers and farmworkers. This bipartisan legislation will modernize the immigration system to protect workers in the agriculture industry and create more stability in rural communities across the country. This is good for our economy and it is the right thing to do. I’m proud of the bipartisan coalition we built to support this bill that will help everyone – from the potato farms of Idaho to the citrus farms in my home state of California,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas.

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).

Background:

Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guestworker 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 a 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.

 

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