This week the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act as part of a broader immigration overhaul effort by President Biden.
Richard Stup is an agricultural workforce specialist at Cornell University, who serves as liaison between the agricultural industry and employment-focused regulatory authorities. He says growth of American farms is constrained due to demand for farm labor not met by the domestic population and passing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would be a major step in stabilizing the agricultural workforce.
“The current immigration system threatens food security and puts the farms that power rural communities at risk. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would be a major step toward stabilizing the workforce, helping employers and employees to comply with the law, and providing a streamlined program to help farms access needed, temporary workers.
“The domestic population simply cannot provide enough employees to meet the U.S. demand for farm labor. Labor is a major limiting factor that constrains the sustainability and growth of American farms.
“This act would update the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to make it easier for seasonal employers to use, and it would expand the program to meet the needs of year-round employers such as dairy farms. It would adjust the legal status of the many essential, immigrant agricultural workers who have worked on farms for many years, providing needed security for them and their families. Finally, it would help farm employers to be fully compliant with a simple and workable immigration law rather than the confusing and difficult process that exists today.
“With a stable workforce, U.S. farms can expand the variety of quality foods produced locally to meet changing consumer markets.”