The reason for today’s special episode is The Farm Workforce Modernization Act that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now moving on to the Senate. This legislation is an effort to make progress on the mess that is U.S. ag labor policy. Shay Myers, a farmer who was featured on this show back in episode 178, called me to talk about the importance of this bill to U.S. farmers and their employees. In fact, over 300 agricultural organizations supported the bill. Ag labor reform like this has been attempted for decades, but has never been passed, mostly due to politics.
First, what does this bill do? Put simply, it improves the process for H-2A workers, which is the name of the visa for temporary agricultural workers. It also makes it mandatory that agricultural employers e-verify employees legal work status for employment. Finally, and perhaps most controversially, it establishes a program for agricultural workers and their families who are already in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment if they meet certain requirements.