U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and several other House members has introduced a bipartisan bill to reform the agricultural labor system in the United States. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which is the product of negotiations between a diverse array of agricultural stakeholders and farmworker advocates, includes provisions to both ensure a legal and stable workforce for family farmers and ranchers as well as protect the health and safety of farmworkers.
At National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 117th Anniversary Convention in March, delegates approved a special order of business calling on Congress to “stabilize the current agricultural workforce” through a “flexible, efficient, and compassionate agricultural worker visa program.” Because the proposed bill would achieve both goals, NFU Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew applauded its introduction and urged Congress to approve it.
“Many family farmers and ranchers rely on hired farmworkers to help with planting, harvest, milking cows, and other essential tasks. But across the country, it has become exceedingly difficult to find legal, qualified workers. Without a workforce, farmers aren’t able to complete day-to-day work, forcing some to simply leave unharvested crops to rot in the field. This threatens both the viability of American farms as well as consumers’ access to affordable, domestically produced food.
“But we don’t just need a legal and adequate workforce – we need one that is fair. A large number of farmworkers are immigrants, a population that has historically been underserved and overlooked. These hardworking individuals who help us put food on our tables deserve greater protections and a pathway to citizenship.
“National Farmers Union supports this bipartisan effort to address the needs of both farmers and workers, and we urge its swift passage in the House of Representatives.”
Source: National Farmers Union