“Historic” Ag Labor Bill Passed Today

Rep. Cox Presides Over House As It Passes Historic Agriculture Labor Bill

Bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act Delivers for Central Valley Priorities 

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Today, Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21) presided over the House floor as it passed historic legislation that aims to provide a reliable workforce for Central Valley farmers and provide a mechanism for legal status for undocumented agricultural workers. Rep. Cox has had a role in this legislation throughout its development and his role presiding over the House is an acknowledgement of that leadership and the enormous impact this legislation will have on the Central Valley.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was negotiated over several months with input from agricultural stakeholders and labor organizations, makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.
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“I came to Washington to solve problems and we have a major problem when half our agricultural workforce is undocumented and vulnerable to abuse, and our farmers risk financial ruin for lack of a steady workforce. I think that everyone who is here should be here legally and we need to act to steady our agricultural economy,” said Rep. Cox.

“It was a priority for me to be part of this bipartisan process because today there are people in my district who may go the rest of their lives without seeing their loved ones outside the US, for fear of getting picked up and being undocumented. There are also farmers in my district whose dairies will or already have gone under, partly because they don’t have a steady source of skilled agricultural workers. We shouldn’t accept this policy failure by our government as the status quo.”

“Getting people from both sides of the aisle, farmers, ranchers, and labor on the same page is no easy feat, so I am especially proud to support this legislation which will bring U.S. residents out of the shadows, protect their rights, and stabilize the agricultural economy for future generations.”

Background:
Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guest worker program is in need of meaningful, bipartisan reform. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a workforce solution for America’s agriculture industry by providing stability, predictability, and fairness to one of the most critical sectors of our nation’s economy.
The bill will:

  • Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
  • Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
  • Establish mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.