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.
As the new Congress begins in 2021, President-elect Biden has indicated he will submit immigration legislation to Congress in the first 100 days. While the proposal will focus heavily on Dreamers and Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), United and allies are making a strong push to include needed agriculture reform in the Administration’s proposal. An agriculture provision included to any immigration reform effort can bring stronger bipartisan support to a broader immigration bill. We are working to ensure that any immigration reform addresses the legal status of current workforce while improving the current H-2A program. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA) introduced by Chairwoman Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) passed with bipartisan support by the House in 2019 is a good foundation to start. This legislation had the support of both the agriculture community and farmworker advocates. Finally, regulatory changes in the H-2A program to revise wage calculations and streamline the program should be continued.
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.
2021 Action Plan:
- Drive legislation to provide legal status for our current workforce and reform the H-2A guest worker program to provide for a stable future flow of workers.
- Reintroduce the House passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act to serve as the initial legislation to guide the Biden administration’s efforts to pass immigration reform.
- Apart from legislation, work with the new Administration to seek greater modernization of the H-2A program. This includes building support in the new Administration for reforms that were made under the Trump administration. This includes a revised calculation of the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) as well as the relaxation of burdensome administrative requirements to ensure access to a viable workforce.
Take Action On This Issue!Grassroots Action Network
United Fresh Immigration Activities
- March 26, 2020 | United Fresh Applauds Decision on Foreign Worker Processing
- January 2, 2020 | Agriculture Workforce Coalition Letter to Senate
- December 11, 2019 | United Fresh Supports Passage of Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the House of Representatives
- October 30, 2019 | United Fresh Press Release on Introduction of Farm Workforce Modernization Act
- September 24, 2019 | United Fresh Comments on H-2A
- April 3, 2019 | United Fresh Testimony at House Judiciary Committee Hearing
- April 3, 2019 | United Fresh Statement on House Judiciary Committee for Labor Hearing
- May 24, 2018| United Fresh Statement on H-2A Modernization
- March 28, 2017 | Immigration Reform Letter to President Trump
- November 30, 2016 | AWC Letter to Vice President Pence
- October 13, 2016 | Comments on Standards and Procedures for the Enforcement of the Immigration and Nationality Act
- June 10, 2016 | Congressional Letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez & Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, León Rodríguez on H-2A Improvements
- May 22, 2015 | AWC Letter Opposing Mandatory E-Verify Only
- July 10, 2015 | Letter to Departments of State and Homeland Security on Visa Stoppages
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%
STATE PROFILES OF PRODUCE ACROSS AMERICA
To learn more about immigration reform please reach out to John Hollay, Senior Director, Government Relations & Public Policy.