Nov 21, 2019 / Agriculture

Support Builds for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Support continues to build for the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act that Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) joined in introducing in October and which passed the House Judiciary Committee this week. This support includes hundreds of agriculture groups, conservative advocacy groups, religious organizations, and more. 
This week, more than 300 agriculture groups from across the country wrote a letter in support of this bipartisan legislation. In it they say, “The effects of agriculture’s critical shortage of labor reach far beyond the farm gate, negatively impacting our economic competitiveness, local economies, and jobs. Economists have found that every farm worker engaged in high-value, labor-intensive crop and livestock production sustains two to three off-farm jobs…Securing a reliable and skilled workforce is essential, not only for the agriculture industry but for the U.S. economy as a whole.” Read their full letter of support by clicking here.  
The libertarian think tank Cato Institute says the legislation will “grow the U.S. economy, make America’s farmers more competitive internationally, and reduce unnecessary taxpayer-funded enforcement.” 
Also this week, Americans for Prosperity and the Libre Initiative voiced their support in a letter. They said, “On behalf of our organizations and the millions of activists we represent, we applaud the bipartisan efforts lawmakers in the House of Representatives on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019. This bill represents a step in the right direction by modernizing components of our guest worker program and legal immigration system. It will also help our country better meet the needs of employers and guest workers in the agriculture sector.” View their letter here
When the bill was introduced, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the benefits it will bring to our economy. “The inability of American farmers to effectively meet their workforce needs does not affect the agricultural industry in a vacuum,” said Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley. “When crops rot in a field because farmers do not have enough workers for the harvest, this does not only harm the interests of that farmer. These situations also negatively affect the shipping company that would have transported those products, and the retailers that would have sold them. Furthermore, the uncertainty caused by the insufficient quantity of agricultural workers in the U.S. has enabled foreign agricultural producers to take advantage of this situation and gain market share. American agricultural producers will only become less competitive in the global marketplace if these workforce problems persist.” Read their full statement by clicking here.  
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says of the legislation, “H.R. 5038 proposes a meaningful way for migrant agricultural workers to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contributions to the U.S. agricultural economy. It also improves labor protections while producing employment flexibility that is needed to aid our agricultural industries.” Read their full letter here
Want more information on the bill? Read a summary by clicking here
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