Feb 26, 2020
Rep. Newhouse to Senate on ag labor reform: ‘Get it done’

Potato and apple industry leaders and several members of the U.S House of Representatives came together outside the Capitol Building Feb. 26 to implore the Senate to pass an agriculture labor reform bill.

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, co-author of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, urges the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass an ag labor reform bill. Photo: Bill Schaefer Photography

In December, the House passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act by a 260-165 vote. The bill’s success in the House was likely due to its bipartisan leadership of Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).

Those three were joined by fellow House members Doug LaMalfa (R-California), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Jimmy Panetta (D-California), as well as the staff and executive committee of the National Potato Council (NPC), U.S. Apple Association President & CEO Jim Bair and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President Chuck Conner at Wednesday’s press conference outside the Capitol. (See video here.)

Several House members acknowledged the Farm Workforce Modernization Act isn’t perfect, but it largely addresses needed changes in immigration and agriculture labor laws. They urged the Senate to make its own version of the bill and get it passed before the year is finished.

“It’s time for the Senate to perfect it and get it done,” said Newhouse, who added that inadequate labor is the biggest issue facing U.S. farmers today.

Speaking on behalf of the potato industry were NPC CEO Kam Quarles, NPC President Britt Raybould and NPC Vice President of Legislative and Governmental Affairs RJ Andrus.

Spudman posted a series of tweets during the press conference. Here are they are.

— By Zeke Jennings, managing editor

Top photo: U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) speaks during a press conference on agriculture labor reform on Feb. 26, 2020. 

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