2017-10-11 / Farm & Ranch

Goodlatte unveils plan for new ag guest worker program

by Jessica Domel
Multimedia Reporter

There’s a new plan to replace the current agriculture guest worker program.

Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte of Virginia introduced the Agriculture Guestworker Act Monday. The legislation, called the Ag Act, would replace the current H-2A program for agriculture.

“For far too long, the broken H-2A guest worker program has buried American farmers in red tape and excessive costs without delivering access to a stable and reliable workforce,” Goodlatte said. “It’s clear that the current program is outdated and broken for American farmers, and it’s well past the time to replace it with a reliable, efficient and fair program that provides American farmers access to a legal, stable supply of workers, both in the short- and long-term, for seasonal, as well as year-round, work.”

The Ag Act, if passed, would replace H-2A with a new program called H-2C. It would allow people working on farms, ranches and dairies illegally to become legal agricultural workers.

“The Ag Act replaces the flawed H-2A program with a new, flexible and market-driven guest worker program that is designed to meet the needs of the diverse agriculture industry when not enough American workers can be found,” Goodlatte said.

The new program would fall under the U.S. Department of Agriculture instead of the Department of Labor where the current H-2A program is administered.

“USDA (is) 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 guest worker program to year-round agricultural employers,” Goodlatte said. “I thank the agriculture community for the input they provided on this legislation.”

The act was set to be marked up by the House Judiciary Committee today, Oct. 4. That hearing has been postponed until further notice.

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