Immigration reform bills failed in the Senate last week, but farm leaders are pressing for House action that they want to include agricultural workers.
The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging lawmakers to get behind a bid by House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte to include the AG Act in his broader immigration reform bill.
Whether a more-conservative House GOP measure has any chance in the Senate, is questionable, but AFB President Zippy Duvall says agriculture is at a “crisis point” in securing adequate legal immigrant labor.
AFBF public policy executive director Dale Moore says, “A lot of farmers have told us directly that they have to make decisions to plow under a crop because they don’t have enough workers. Leaving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars just plowed into the ground out there because they don’t have the workers to pick it up.”
AFBF’s Deputy Executive Director Paul Schlegel, on the fight to keep ag in the House reform bill, says, “Some members have been trying to take the AG act out of the chairman’s overall DACA bill and Farm Bureau went on record last week as opposed to that. We want to keep it included in the bill because this might be the best, and only, chance we’re going to have in this Congress to have our issues addressed.”
The Goodlatte AG Act would create a new H-2C program that expands the existing H-2A to cover dairy and some vegetables.
Farm Bureau’s Duvall says AFBF supports providing immigrant workers the chance to earn permanent legal status.