Jul 14, 2021House panel backs relief for ag industry, expands labor access
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, released the following statement July 13 after the House Committee on Appropriations approved an amendment introduced by Newhouse and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, to the Fiscal Year 2022 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.
Newhouse and Cuellar’s amendment would allow the H-2A temporary agriculture guestworker program to be accessed year-round for Fiscal Year 2022, opening the program to producers in all sectors of agriculture, including dairy, greenhouses, and other agricultural operations with year-round labor needs. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
“Our farmers and ranchers are in desperate need of a legal and reliable workforce,” Newhouse said. “Unfortunately, the H-2A program does not work for all of agriculture. As farming methods have become less seasonal or able to produce multiple harvests, the H-2A program must be updated to meet the needs of the agriculture industry. This amendment supports legal immigration while making H-2A more workable for farmers.”
Newhouse and Cuellar’s amendment clarifies that for FY2022 all of agriculture may use the H-2A program. Under the amendment, H-2A would still remain a temporary guestworker program. Additionally, the amendment would not change the time limits a worker employed through the H-2A program can stay in the U.S., and it would maintain the requirement that farmers advertise open positions and are trying to hire American workers first.
The agriculture industry’s labor situation has been a concern for many years, and currently large segments of American agriculture face a critical shortage of workers. This shortfall is exacerbated by the fact that the H-2A program is not working for all of agriculture, such as dairies and agriculture operations with multiple crops and harvests.