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During the COVID-19 crisis, as a result of our efforts, a number of important steps have been taken related to our workforce. As of March 27, H-2A and H-2B workers will be allowed to enter the U.S. as members of the essential ag workforce.


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For years, the produce industry and our agriculture sector partners have made an overwhelming case for legislation to reform our broken immigration system and help build a legal and reliable workforce. Our industry must have:

  • Legal status for the current workforce
  • Reforms to the current federal agriculture guestworker program known as H-2A
  • Future access to a skilled, dedicated workforce
  • NO heightened enforcement legislation that does not contain a solution for agriculture’s problems in attracting and maintaining a workforce. 

The produce industry does not oppose proper enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, but to do so without addressing the reality that much of workforce in agriculture is foreign-born would be devastating to our sector. 

On October 30, 2019, Chairwoman Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA), introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The legislation was then passed by the House of Representatives on December 11, 2019 – an important first step in reforming our broken immigration system.

As our focus now turns to the Senate, we have the opportunity to replicate the bipartisan effort that resulted in passing the bill in the House. Given the dynamics of the Senate we expect a different process to unfold, but we will continue to be guided by our principles to reform the H-2A program to make it more workable for our growers and to address the legal status of our current workforce that is undocumented. We stand ready to work with policymakers to craft policies that keep our nation safe and help our economy thrive.

Immigration Issue Brief
State Profiles of Produce Across America

Take Action On This Issue!Grassroots Action Network

Make your voice heard! Go to United Fresh’s grassroots website for easy, quick steps you can take to tell Congress to act on agriculture’s labor needs now!

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Agriculture Labor by the Numbers

  • There are an estimated 3 million foreign workers in the U.S. agricultural labor force
  • The number of full-time equivalent field and crop workers fell by more than 20 percent between 2002 and 2014
  • As of 2016, the average age of a farm worker in the U.S. is 40 years old
  • In 2018 the Department of Labor approved 242,762 H-2A positions and in just the last year the number of approved H-2A jobs grew by 21% and the number of employer applicants grew by over 16%

To learn more about immigration reform please reach out to John Hollay, Senior Director, Government Relations & Public Policy.