U.S. industry groups welcome House passage of Farm Workforce Modernization Act
U.S. produce industry groups have welcomed the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 247-174.
Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia said the Thursday vote "reconfirms the reality that well-crafted and durable legislation requires the input of thoughtful and pragmatic lawmakers from both parties".
"We thank the House members who led this effort and all who voted in favor of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act," he said.
Puglia urged Senators of both parties to begin their consideration of this legislation in a similar construct.
“The need for a solution to agriculture’s labor crisis has been widely accepted across party lines," he said. "Furthermore, the remedy, which addresses both the existing workforce and the future flow of workers, has been negotiated in painstaking detail and agreed to by advocates representing farmers and farmworkers alike.
"The Senate never took up this legislation after it passed the House in 2019 and the problem has predictably worsened."
"Americans want to see Congress work on real problems and real solutions and spend less time in ideological conflict. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act affords the Senate a powerful opportunity to meet that expectation."
United Fresh Produce Association President & CEO Tom Stenzel said the House of Representatives "took an important step towards reforming our agricultural labor system".
"The legislation will stabilize our current workforce and make improvements to ensure that a future workforce is available to meet the growing needs of the fresh produce industry," he said.
"The strong support for this measure would not have been possible without the leadership of Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA)."
"Their efforts, aided by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, made today’s passage of the bill possible. Now our efforts turn to the Senate where we will work to further improve the bill and garner similar bipartisan support for this legislation."
The U.S. Apple Association today also applauded the development, with President and CEO Jim Bair saying the legislation would stabilize the current agricultural workforce.
"It also brings needed modernization and cost containment to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program," he said.
"Each year growers across the country face uncertainty as to whether there will be sufficient labor to harvest the crop. The current system causes an unstable situation for not only apple growers, but for all farmers who depend on immigrant labor.
"Because of the labor intensity required in the apple industry, USApple has long been a leading proponent of stabilizing and legalizing a reliable workforce."
The organization noted with appreciation that most representatives from apple states voted in favor of the bill.