Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, released a statement following the House passage of H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 260-165:
“We have known for a long time that American agriculture has a labor crisis. U.S. workers stopped working in agriculture jobs and farmers became dependent on foreign workers to keep their farms running and operating. Without foreign workers, many whom are undocumented, many U.S. farms would go out of business. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides a pathway to legal status through continued agricultural employment, to help our farmers meet their labor needs into the future.
“This bill requires applicants to undergo background checks and pass strict criminal and national security bars. It also reforms the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to provide more flexibility for employers and has critical protections for workers.
“Of course, no bill is perfect and this one is no exception. There are several issues that will need to be worked out with the Senate, but this is a good first step. American agriculture has been the best in the world for a long time, but we cannot continue to be the best with a shortage of people in agriculture jobs. Updating the laws will ensure we never become dependent on foreign countries for our food supply and can continue our long history of working towards food security for all Americans and people across the world.”