Washington, DC Today, Rep. John Curtis joined a group of bipartisan colleagues to introduce the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a compromise solution for American agriculture. The bill was introduced with the strong bipartisan support of 24 Democrats and 20 Republicans.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was negotiated over several months with input from agricultural stakeholders and labor organizations, makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.

“I am pleased to lead, with a bipartisan group of my colleagues, a pragmatic and realistic proposal to address the immigration reforms that our agriculture sector desperately needs. The “Farm Workforce Modernization Act” creates a pathway to legal status for the dedicated farmworkers who have helped provide food for our nation for decades, and it ensures that Utah’s farmers and ranchers will have the year-round workforce they need to be successful,” said Curtis. “There is no quick fix to our broken immigration system and while this is not yet a perfect bill, I am excited to be a part of real progress being made and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make meaningful change and advance immigration policy we can all get behind.”

Statements of Support:

The bill has garnered the wide-spread support of nearly 250 agriculture groups and labor organizations.

Neil L. Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, United States Chamber of Commerce: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would take important steps to address the growing struggle of agricultural employers to meet their workforce needs…The Farm Workforce Modernization Act seeks to provide workforce stability for agricultural workers by allowing unauthorized farm workers to earn legal status in the U.S. This legislation also would address future agricultural workforce needs by updating the temporary agricultural worker program, most notably providing eligibility to employers who have year-round labor needs, which is critical for dairy and livestock. Furthermore, the bill would enhance domestic security by making the use of E-Verify mandatory for employers seeking to hire temporary agricultural workers.”

Arturo S. Rodriguez, President Emeritus of United Farmworkers & Spokesperson of UFW Foundation: “After months of negotiations, the UFW and UFW Foundation are enthusiastic about passing legislation that honors all farm workers who feed America by creating a way for undocumented workers to apply for legal status and a roadmap to earn citizenship in the future without compromising farm workers’ existing wages and legal protections. Understanding that compromise is required to meaningfully improve the lives of immigrant field laborers, it is our hope this will be the first time the House of Representatives, under the leadership of either party, will approve an agricultural immigration bill.”

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF): “We have supported numerous efforts to address dairy’s acute labor needs.  Passing legislation in the House is a critical step in the process.  We urge the Senate to work with us on this important issue so we can get an ag worker bill across the finish line in this Congress. The bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides an important starting point for badly needed improvements to agriculture immigration policy. NMPF would like to thank Chairwoman Lofgren and Congressman Newhouse for their bipartisan leadership, and we look forward to continuing to work with them as this important legislation moves forward.”

Chuck Conner, President & CEO of National Coalition of Farm Cooperatives: “The legislation points the way towards achieving many of the long-standing immigration reform goals of NCFC and others in agriculture. While there are provisions that are problematic, on balance it is a good starting point for the legislative process. It provides an opportunity to obtain an earned legal status for the current workforce in agriculture; it codifies many of the reforms that the Trump Administration has made to the current H-2A program and provides some certainty over labor costs; and it authorizes a limited number of year-round visas for those farmers with year-round labor needs, such as those in dairy and livestock. We look forward to working with Chairwoman Lofgren, Congressman Newhouse and the other co-sponsors as the bill moves forward to ensure that the bill leads to a solution that ensures agriculture producers have access to a legal and stable workforce.”

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 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-07); Rep. James Baird (R-IN- 04); 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. John Curtis  (R-UT-03); Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13); Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13); Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25); Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11); Rep. Sylvia Garcia  (D-TX-29); Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07); Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA-10); 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. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04); Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22); Rep. Jimmy Panetta  (D-CA-20); Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN-07); Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23); 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. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07); Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19); Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21); Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15); 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); Rep. Don Young  (R-AK- At Large)

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