Noting that California farmers and ranchers have long sought reforms and improvements to immigration laws that would enhance the lives of agricultural employees and their families, the California Farm Bureau Federation said it supports a bipartisan bill introduced today.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., would improve agricultural visa programs and accommodate immigrant agricultural employees already in the United States, while assuring border security.
“This comprehensive legislation contains key elements that address current and future workforce needs for agricultural employers and employees in California and throughout the nation,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “The reforms in the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 will provide much-needed solutions for agricultural employers and employees.”
The act would allow immigrant agricultural employees in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment.
“We need to deal fairly with the existing agricultural workforce and their immediate families,” Johansson said. “The people who work on farms and ranches are valued members of rural communities. Their contributions to our communities and our food system should be recognized by allowing them a chance to gain legal status.”
The bill would also modernize and streamline the existing H-2A agricultural visa program, to provide more flexibility for employers and ensure critical protections for foreign employees.
“Improvements to the H-2A program would make it much more flexible and valuable to California farm employers and employees,” Johansson said. “For example, a pilot program in the bill would allow H-2A employees to move from farm to farm for employment, a portability option California producers have long sought. And, for the first time, the bill would accommodate guestworker visas for year-round operations such as dairies and nurseries.”