FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 30, 2019
Contact: Hannah Packman, 202-554-1600
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and several other House members today 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.”
To download an audio file of Rob Larew’s quote, click here.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.
Look for us online at NFU.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Instead of working on making it easier to bring in new individuals to the states through work visas, why not work on creating a more fair work environment for those individuals already here? Instead of allowing farmers and ranchers to avoid proper compensation for non-visa workers, such as not being required to pay overtime, not having to provide health insurance for a more than full time worker, and not even required to pay anything more than minimum wage, and work on getting those things for the workers already here. The work required from farm laborers is long hours, physically demanding, and high risk of injury. Maybe then the labor force would increase for the agricultural industry by more residents seeing more value in the work they do. Those work visas require housing assistance, transportation assistance, and higher wages in order to qualify for the the workers, why not hold that to all workers in the agricultural industry. By hiring locally, your supporting the local economy, keeping more of the money local and supporting a neighbor over a foreigner, which a lot of times sends a portion of their money to their family in their home country.