Today, Congressman Lou Correa’s (D-CA-46) Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed the House. This bipartisan bill—introduced with Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04)—ensures California’s future as the nation’s breadbasket and that our country continues to feed the world.
In the 116th Congress, this nonpartisan bill was carefully negotiated over months with numerous input from agricultural stakeholders and labor organizations. This year’s bill continues to protect farmworkers and the industry they serve.
Rep. Lou Correa said, “Now more than ever, we must come together to protect farmworkers. These essential workers have been devastated by COVID-19, demonstrating the critical importance of protecting this workforce. Food security is national security. When we protect our farmworkers, we are protecting every one of us.
“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act makes huge progress for America’s farmworkers and farmers. This bill protects our food supply chain while finally treating our immigrant farmworkers with the dignity and respect they have earned. I am proud so many of my colleagues joined me in passing this bill.”
“The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation. But many of them do so while living and working in a state of uncertainty and fear, which has only been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “Stabilizing the workforce will protect the future of our farms and our food supply. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act accomplishes this by providing a path to legal status for farmworkers and updating and streamlining the H-2A temporary worker visa program while ensuring fair wages and working conditions for all workers. I look forward to working with Senators on both sides of the aisle to get this bipartisan legislation that serves the best interests of our country to the President’s desk.”
“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the bipartisan, targeted labor solution our agriculture industry needs. By creating a viable and desperately-needed agriculture labor program, we are removing opportunities to work illegally in the United States, strengthening our border security, and ensuring we have a reliable, legal workforce for our farms and ranches for years to come,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse. “Today’s passage marks an important step forward for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get it to the President’s desk, and deliver historic and meaningful reforms for American agriculture.”
Background: Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guestworker program is in need of meaningful, bipartisan reform. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a workforce solution for America’s agriculture industry by providing stability, predictability, and fairness to one of the most critical sectors of our nation’s economy.
The bill will:
- Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
- Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and allows access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
- Establish a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.