Fresno, CA – One congressman is calling out the current H-2A program saying, “The current agricultural guestworker program, known as the H-2A program, is expensive, flawed and plagued with red tape.” Now Republican House Representative from Virginia, Bob Goodlatte, who Chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has revealed his proposal for a solution called the ‘Ag Act’ with a new program designation “H-2C.”
Datatech has been following this development as we serve agribusinesses that rely on H-2A program workers and provides payroll software that tracks these workers through the company payroll.
Representative Goodlatte says, “The new program is to be operated by the USDA, an agency that clearly understands the unique needs of America’s farm and ranch operations and the importance of getting perishable agricultural commodities to the marketplace in an efficient manner, and expands the guestworker program to year-round agricultural employers.”
Goodlatte has been touting his proposal for some time and has been recently hinting that the proposal will be officially revealed in Congress soon. You can read Goodlatte’s press release on the proposal here. The Ag Act claims to create a workable guestworker program, allow experienced unauthorized agricultural workers to participate in the new program, provide farmers with flexibility, relieve farmers of excessive burdens, ensure guestworkers return home and protect U.S. taxpayers. You can read the summary by following this link.
Datatech has reached out to agricultural associations for their response to the Ag Act proposal, and it seems that the reactions are positive and showing a willingness to work with lawmakers to get a new law in place.
Senior Vice President of Public Policy at the United Fresh Produce Association, Robert Guenther says they support the introduction of the Ag Act saying, “Representative Goodlatte recognizes the crisis in agricultural labor and the need for a more effective guest worker program. We encourage members of the Judiciary Committee to move legislation out of committee so we can begin to make progress on addressing this critical issue.” Guenther says they’ll work with all involved to get a law crafted and passed that the President will sign.
The Agriculture Workforce Coalition released a statement that’s supported by the Western Growers Association saying they support Goodlatte’s efforts, “We commend Chairman Goodlatte for the improvements made thus far to secure a balance between the need for a legal workforce in agriculture today and in the future, with the necessity of dealing with illegal immigration. As the process unfolds, we look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats on this legislation.”
There’s a long way to go, but a proposal is on the table. Stay tuned.