Time for the U.S. Senate to move on a farm labor bill

The U.S. House passed the bipartisan Farm Worker Modernization Act Thursday.

Co-sponsor Representative Dan Newhouse of Washington says the bill has been negotiated on over the past several months by agriculture and labor groups alike to create a legal path to citizenship for farm workers.

“Eliminating incentives to illegal migration, and strengthening both our national security and our national food supply chain,” he says.

President Biden says farm workers are vital to the country and the economy, and he supports the bill as it delivers lawful status and better working conditions for farm workers which is needed for the stability of the entire ag industry.

House Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott, also a co-sponsor, says a stable supply of labor is essential to the U.S. ag industry in the face of ongoing competition and he promises to advocate for a workable resolution with his Senate colleagues.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is calling for the passage of the bill, saying it addresses the nation’s future labor needs by modernizing an outdated system for temporary workers, while ensuring fair wages and safer workplace conditions.

The bill is supported by more than 300 agricultural organizations, spanning from dairy to specialty crop groups and more.  American Farm Bureau however opposes some provisions in the bill including how guest worker wages are calculated.

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) are applauding its passage, saying they will work together to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

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