(December 11, 2019)–With the pending debate on H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, on the House floor, a bipartisan group of legislators have demonstrated the courage and civility that are required to address the most intractable challenge facing American agriculture – securing an adequate supply of workers to perform the skilled labor that is required on farms across the country. The farm and agriculture groups issuing this statement extend their sincerest appreciation to Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Congressman Dan Newhouse and all of the representatives who have boldly negotiated and supported this bill.
Nearly 300 agricultural organizations representing the geographic and commodity diversity of our nation’s farmers support the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a testament to the critical labor shortage that jeopardizes our collective ability to continue producing an abundant, safe and affordable domestic food supply.
At a time when the viability of America’s family farms is also being tested by ongoing trade disputes with China and other significant global trading partners, we call on the Senate to, in good faith, begin the work to craft a bipartisan measure that embodies the same spirit as the House effort. We encourage our Senate leaders, Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer, to emulate the bipartisan effort demonstrated in the House to mutually resolve any remaining stakeholder concerns, making the bill available for conference and eventual signature by President Trump.
While we understand the President is working on a merit-based system for comprehensive immigration reform, the agricultural portion of immigration reform has historically been negotiated separately. This is because it has been an established fact that foreign workers are not displacing Americans on the farm, and their work here enables agricultural production to stay in America rather than going to other countries. For this reason, this bill does not interfere with the Administration’s broader plan for overhauling the immigration system.
As an industry, we reiterate our commitment to working with Congress and the Administration to move forward a solution that resolves, once and for all, the American agricultural labor crisis.
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
National Council of Agricultural Employers
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Farmers Union
National Milk Producers Federation
National Potato Council
U.S. Apple Association
Western Growers Association