Dec 11, 2019
House passes Farm Workforce Modernization Act, move applauded by NPC

The National Potato Council welcomed U.S. House passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038) Dec. 11. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Mike Simpson (R-ID), now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

“Representatives Lofgren, Newhouse, and Simpson are commended for reaching across party lines to create and pass a bipartisan bill that will benefit both growers and laborers. Even during these highly partisan times, the passage of an agricultural labor reform bill demonstrates how Congress can work together to do what’s best for farms, families, and communities” said Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council. “The U.S. potato industry is proud to work with our partners on Capitol Hill to promote solutions to address American agriculture’s labor crisis. As the bill moves through the legislative process, will continue to work with the Senate and in conference committee to improve the measure and enact long-term labor solutions that support the health of our industry.”

“The House should be commended for taking the crucial step of starting the legislative process to stabilize our agricultural workforce and contribute to the future success of the U.S. potato industry. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act seeks to enhance the efficiency of the H-2A program for seasonal workers while creating a new long-term solution for year-round agricultural labor, including necessary strong enforcement measures,” said NPC First Vice President of Legislative and Government Affairs Britt Raybould of St. Anthony, Idaho.

The National Potato Council represents the interests of U.S. potato growers on federal legislative, regulatory, environmental, and trade issues. The value of U.S. potato production is over $3.7 billion annually and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly. NPC is a member of the Agricultural Workforce Coalition that speaks for American agriculture on labor reform legislation.

Top photo: Mark Darrington of Declo, Idaho, expresses his frustration with the H-2A agricultural labor program leadership during the National Potato Council’s summer meetings in Wisconsin in July 2019. 

United Fresh also supports passage

The United Fresh Produce Association applauds passage of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 260 to 165.

“For too long, the fresh produce industry has suffered under a system that fails to meet the labor needs of our industry,” said United Fresh Produce Association President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “Passage of this legislation represents an important step in ending decades of uncertainty for growers of fresh fruits and vegetables. I’d like to personally thank Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Dan Newhouse, who spearheaded the bipartisan negotiations that led to this agreement. United Fresh looks forward to similarly working with bipartisan members in the Senate to build on the work of their House colleagues and craft legislation that deserves our support.”

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides much needed reforms to the H-2A program by expanding access to year-round industries, brings certainty to wage costs that have ballooned in recent years and provides a pathway to earned legal status to the current undocumented workforce.

For more information, contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, at 202-303-3409 or [email protected]

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