The U.S. Senate last year failed to advance the Affordable and Secure Food Act, a bill that some thought would be the best chance for farm labor reform in decades. The House had passed a similar bill, known as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, more than a year earlier. Both bills sought to modify the current H-2A work visa program. The bills also would have also established a program for immigrants who are ag workers, along with their spouses and minor children, to earn legal status.
“It just wasn’t enough, and it didn’t go far enough to provide enough workers for all of agriculture,” says Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation (shown above), who also opposed the legislation in spite of an ongoing farm labor shortage.
“We are very concerned about the wage rate formula because we don’t think it’s sustainable. It’s outgrowing the costs of anywhere across the country and we want to make sure that we have time to work on that formula that calculates that wage rate. We have to do better, and we must do better to make sure that it’s sustainable for the farmer and for the workers,” said Duvall.
Sam Kieffer, Farm Bureau’s Vice President of Public Policy, said there are other issues within farm labor that also need addressed…
“Our membership does support E-Verify. However, when E-Verify is hanging over the heads of producers without a sufficient number of visas for the workforce that is already here, that is a concern,” Kieffer said.
Kieffer added that Farm Bureau will continue to engage with federal lawmakers to find a solution for farm labor reform.
“We have been actively engaged for the last 18 months specifically with Senators Bennet and Crapo, and we remain committed to working with any legislator in either chamber to find the solutions to work for all of agriculture,” said Kieffer.
The United Farm Workers (UFW) blamed the American Farm Bureau Federation and Congressional Republicans for failing to advance the Affordable and Secure Food Act before the end of the 177th United States Congress.
Farm Bureau delegates are scheduled to set policy priorities for the new year during their annual convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report and audio from Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and Vice President of Public Policy Sam Kieffer as both discuss why their organization was opposed to the U.S. Senate’s farm labor reform bill late last year.
Source: NAFB News Service