Another Attempt to Fix Farm Labor Problems Introduced in Congress

A new comprehensive legislation package that attempts to overhaul the nation’s agricultural labor programs has been introduced in the US House. Politico reports the legislation will attempt to “thread the needle” between agriculture and labor groups that have long butted heads over the issue.

The bill, called the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would provide a way to legal status for undocumented farmworkers who have been working at least two years on their jobs and are planning to continue. The bill would also put into place a mandatory E-Verify system nationwide for farmers, something that would give conservatives incentive to support the bill.

It will simplify the H-2A application process, cap wages for farmworkers, and it will raise funding for USDA programs that support housing for laborers. It also attempts to meet the needs of dairy farmers and others who need year-round labor.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), offers 40,000 extra green cards for agricultural labor and creates a capped program to grant three-year visas for workers in certain sectors, including dairy.

Politico says it’s the latest attempt to bring together labor and ag groups, as well as convince both Republicans and Democrats to pass major reform to the farm labor system, something that has failed multiple times in the past.