Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 14

WA S H I N G T O N

Earning legal worker status
The US House of Representatives
recently passed the Farm Workforce
Modernization Act giving seasonal
workers an opportunity to earn legal
status if they are continually employed
in the agriculture sector. The bill was
co-sponsored by Representatives Zoe
Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse
(R-Wash.). The vote passed 247-174
with 30 Republicans in favor.
When the legislation was
introduced in early March, Jen
Sorenson, president of the National
Pork Producers Council (NPPC), said,
" The US pork industry is suffering from
a serious labor shortage, negatively
impacting farms and processing plants.
Unfortunately, the current H-2A visa
program is designed for seasonal
agriculture, ignoring the needs of US
pork producers and other year-round
livestock farmers. Without visa reform
to support a sustainable workforce,
production costs may increase, which
could lead to higher food prices
for consumers. "
Lofgren further explained the
importance of the legislation,
" Stabilizing the workforce will protect
the future of our farms and our
food supply. The Farm Workforce
Modernization Act accomplishes this
by providing a path to legal status
for farmworkers and updating and

streamlining the H-2A temporary
worker visa program while ensuring
fair wages and working conditions for
all workers. I look forward to working
with Senators on both sides of the aisle
to get this bipartisan legislation that
serves the best interests of our country
to the president's desk. "
The bill permits workers to apply
for temporary status as " Certified
Agricultural Worker " only if they
worked at least 180 days in the
agriculture sector in the last two years.
Qualified applicants are provided
five-year renewable agriculture visas.
Individuals can renew their visas by
working at least 100 days in agriculture
each year.
Legal Permanent Resident or green
cards can be applied for by workers
who have worked in agriculture for
at least 10 years and finish four more
years of farm work to be eligible. People
working less than 10 years would need
to work eight more years in the sector.
" By creating a viable and
desperately needed agriculture
labor program, we are removing
opportunities to work illegally in
the United States, strengthening our
border security, and ensuring we have
a reliable, legal workforce for our
farms and ranches for years to come, "
Newhouse said. " Today's passage
marks an important step forward for
farmers, ranchers and farmworkers.
I look forward to working with my

colleagues in the Senate to get it
to the president's desk and deliver
historic and meaningful reforms for
American agriculture. "
The law would also establish a
mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system
for all agricultural employment.
" NPPC thanks the bill's sponsors,
Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) for
jumpstarting this critical conversation,
and believes this legislation is a step
in the right direction, " Sorensen said
in early March. " We look forward
to working with Congress to enact
meaningful labor reform that both
opens the H-2A program to year-round
labor without a cap and provides legal
status for agricultural workers already
in the country. Though changes to the
current proposal will be necessary
to meet those needs, we're confident
Congress will find a solution that works
for all parties, " she said.
" The US pork industry offers good
jobs with solid pay and benefits, but
most Americans don't live near hog
farms or harvest facilities and rural
populations continue to decline;
therefore, the US pork industry is
largely dependent on foreign-born
workers. Visa reform is needed to
ensure that US livestock agriculture
can compete globally and continue to
provide safe and affordable pork to
Americans and consumers worldwide. "
RYA N M C C A R T H Y | r m c c a r t h y @ s o s l a n d .c o m

- SENATOR DAN NEWHOUSE

14

MEAT+ POULTRY | 04.21 | www.meatpoultry.com

Gary Blakeley/Shutterstock.com

" By creating a viable and desperatelyneeded agriculture labor program, we are ...
ensuring we have a reliable, legal workforce
for our farms and ranches for years to come. "


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Meat+Poultry - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - April 2021

Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - vdg - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - vdg - 2
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 2
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