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Agricultural community welcomes Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was introduced on October 30th, 2019 in the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support. The act would provide legal status for long-term agriculture workers, make improvements to the H-2A visa program and ensure greater security by requiring that agriculture employers participate in the E-Verify program. 

The United Fresh Produce Association applauds the introduction of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. They see the piece of legislation as an important step forward addressing the challenge that the fresh produce industry faces with regards to labor availability and as answering the call from the industry in September during United Fresh’s Washington Conference.

Tom Stenzel, President & CEO, United Fresh Produce Association said: “More work is needed to improve this legislation, but in a time where Washington can’t seem to agree on anything, these members have stepped forward and recognized that the challenge of immigration reform is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem, it is an American problem, and we need to fix it.”

The U.S. Apple Association is also pleased with the new act: “This act is a meaningful agriculture labor reform that will greatly benefit the U.S. apple industry, which relies heavily on foreign born labor," said Jim Bair, the association's president and CEO. “The legislation represents a significant improvement over the status quo for our growers in the H-2A program and those who employ domestic workers. The legislation is a compromise and the first step in a lengthy process. We will continue to provide input and seek improvements as that process moves forward."

“Each year growers coast to coast 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 to bring Americans healthy and affordable food. A stable, legal and reliable workforce is critical if we are to continue to have a vibrant domestic apple supply. For these reasons, we urge Congress to pass this legislation.”

The Western Growers Association was also pleased with the introduction of the Act. The association’s president and CEO Tom Nassif said: “The act addresses two critical needs for American agriculture – to retain existing, experienced workers and to ensure a reliable future flow of guest workers. Furthermore, after a satisfactory transition period, the bill includes E-Verify for agricultural employers, demonstrating the commitment our industry has made toward a long-term labor solution. The act has the resounding support of the agriculture community, and contains principles that have historically received backing on both sides of the aisle. We, along with our Congressional champions and partners in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, commit ourselves to moving the Farm Workforce Modernization Act forward this legislative session.”

California Citrus Mutual also announced their support, and president Casey Creamer says: “This act creates a pathway to securing a legal workforce now and in the future while also providing stability and security to our employees and their families. This is critical to the sustainability of the fresh produce industry and our continued ability to grow fresh and healthy citrus products in California. The existing system is out-of-date and does not meet the needs of employers or employees. We must put aside political differences and create a reasonable solution. California Citrus Mutual remains committed to working with our partners, Representative Lofgren, and members of Congress to resolve outstanding concerns and reach a deal that can be supported in the United States Senate and signed by the President”

For more information:
Mary Coppola 
United Fresh Produce Association
Tel: +1 202 393 3425

Tracy Grondine 
U.S. Apple Association
Tel: +1 703 442 8850

Cory Lunde 
Western Growers Association
Tel: +1 949 885 2264

Alexis Silveira 
CA Citrus Mutual
Tel: +1 559 592 3790

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