The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday to explore new approaches to agriculture worker programs. Western Growers President and CEO, Tom Nassif submitted a statement for the record in which he stated:
“We need a new model for our future agriculture worker program. Even among those who have used H-2A, there is agreement that this program is broken beyond repair. In order to move us closer to a solution to meet our labor needs, we must consider a new approach to an employee visa program: one that resembles the current labor market.
A workable program would also provide farm workers with the same protections as U.S. workers with respect to all employment related laws and employment taxes. Thus there would be no reason for an employer to prefer a temporary foreign worker over a U.S. worker.
It is also imperative for this program to address, not only the need for future employees, but also the need to retain our experienced employees, the people who are already here. Our farms could not function without these valuable farm employees; yet most work without proper immigration status.
There is not a person in our country that is not connected to this problem. If you eat fresh produce, drink milk, grill steaks or purchase plants for your yard, you are benefiting from the hard work of a foreign agricultural worker.
I urge the Members of this Committee who are concerned about the survival of agriculture in your states to work together and reach out to your colleagues to craft a workable bipartisan solution to this important economic issue.”
Testifying at the hearing Tuesday were Bob Stallman with American Farm Bureau, Chalmers Carr with Titan Farms, Michael Brown with the National Chicken Council, and Giev Kashkooli with United Farm Workers.
In a demonstration of the unity within agriculture, Mr. Stallman, who is also a member of the Ag Workforce Coalition, advocated for providing a mechanism for keeping our existing workforce as well as creating a new market-based worker program.
Western Growers continues to work with industry partners to ensure a solution for our immigration crisis is passed this year.
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