As labor continues to be a top-priority issue for producers nation-wide, Congressman Ted Yoho is aiming to lessen worries of a labor shortage by introducing a new ag guest worker bill. He discussed this new bill in a recent exclusive interview with AgNet Media’s Abbey Taylor.
According to Yoho, the bill shies away from immigration and focuses solely on ensuring a steady workforce for agricultural producers. He also stresses that this bill does not replace the H-2A program but complements it instead.
Under the proposed program, workers would be given a background check and pre-approved before entering the country. Then, once a job is available, the worker would be placed in that job. Once placed, the worker would be allowed in the United States for five years at a time, with the option to renew at four and a half years. “That’s something we’ve never done before,” Yoho said.
Secondly, people already in the country illegally will have an opportunity to take part in this program after becoming approved. “They can enter into this program. There’s protection for their family if they’re here with a family, and they can stay for five years at a time,” Yoho explained. “We are writing laws to accommodate our producers and give opportunity to the workers.”
In an effort to help U.S. agricultural producers, this is an ag-only bill, meaning any workers involved in this program can only work for the U.S. agriculture industry.
Yoho said that he’s received some great feedback on the bill from his colleagues, and he’s excited to continue working this as a bipartisan bill in the House and the Senate.
Hear more about what the bill entails:
Another provision of the bill is that it takes this issue from the Department of Labor and puts it under the U.S. Department of Agriculture instead. Yoho discussed that in the interview:
Yoho wants producers to understand that this bill is not a proposed replacement for H-2A, but a complement to it instead. Hear more:
Yoho is proud to say that this bill is a grassroots effort. He recently toured Florida to introduce the bill to producers and ask them for feedback. He said the tour was incredibly informative, and people were interested in passing this bill. “They (the producers) were there wanting a solution to the problem they had with an ag labor shortage,” Yoho said.
Hear more about Yoho’s trip:
Learn more about the bill here. If producers have any questions about the bill, Yoho encourages them to call his office. The office number is listed on his website Yoho.house.gov. He also invites producers to call him on his personal cell phone at 352-665-8223.