California Fresh Fruit Association, Western Growers, and United Fresh Comment on Passing of Farm Workforce Modernization Act
UNITED STATES - The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was passed yesterday by the United States House of Representatives, contains provisions related to alien farmworkers, including provisions establishing a certified agricultural worker (CAW) status and changing the H-2A temporary worker program. The industry has long been in support of this bill, for it provides much needed reforms to the H-2A program by expanding access to year-round industries, brings certainty to wage costs that have ballooned in recent years, and provides a pathway to earned legal status to the current undocumented workforce.
Several industry powerhouses took to the newswire to share their thoughts.
“With today’s passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, another hurdle in the race to save America’s family farms has been cleared. Western Growers is grateful for the leadership exhibited by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Dan Newhouse, and the statesmanship demonstrated by the bipartisan group of legislators who sponsored and voted for the bill,” stated Western Growers’ President and CEO Tom Nassif in a statement. “But the race is far from over. Both the Senate and President Trump must be willing to take the political stand that is required to ensure the continued production of an abundant, safe, and affordable domestic food supply. Our farmers are depending on the present actions of Congress and the Administration to make possible the future viability of the agriculture industry.”
He continued, noting that, “Agriculture has made its case for a narrow, surgical fix to the farm labor crisis. The rationale, that foreign hands will harvest our fruits and vegetables and perform many of the other skilled jobs required on American farms, has long been accepted on both sides of the aisle. The substance, maintaining the existing, experienced workforce while reforming the H-2A program for future workers, has been carefully crafted with the input and approval of virtually every key stakeholder. All that remains now is for the Senate and President Trump to act. Granted, the bill is not perfect. No piece of legislation ever is. However, the need to secure an adequate, reliable, and skilled workforce for U.S. agriculture cannot be overstated. The farm labor crisis is real and crippling, and the demand to provide a workable legislative solution is immediate and critical, which is why we urge the Senate and President Trump to engage in the legislative process to improve the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, adding those amendments that are necessary to secure the mutual support of Congress and the Administration.”
California Fresh Fruit Association President, Ian LeMay, also issued a statement regarding the bill’s passage.
“The ability to have reliable, legal workforce representatives is one of most important steps forward our industry has made in over 30 years," LeMay stated. "The passage of H.R. 5038 will address critical needs within agriculture by providing a pathway to legal status for current undocumented employees, along with reform to the current H-2A program. Our members look forward to continuing to provide the world’s freshest fruit to consumers here domestically and around the world.”
He also remarked that, “there is no doubt the agricultural industry has waited many years for an immigration reform bill to address the labor concerns amongst the many different commodities produced here domestically so that it can continue to provide the nation and world with safe and reliable food supply long into the future. H.R. 5038 demonstrates that bipartisanship still exists, that when faced with a common challenge we can still rise to the occasion and do the right thing.”
United Fresh’s CEO joined in on supporting the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
“For too long, the fresh produce industry has suffered under a system that fails to meet the labor needs of our industry,” Stenzel explained. “Passage of this legislation represents an important step in ending decades of uncertainty for growers of fresh fruits and vegetables. I’d like to personally thank Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Dan Newhouse who spearheaded the bipartisan negotiations that led to this agreement. United Fresh looks forward to similarly working with bipartisan members in the Senate to build on the work of their House colleagues and craft legislation that deserves our support.”
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