Ag Labor Reform Not Included in Omnibus

Inaction likely dooms any ag labor reforms for at least two years

Despite the efforts of many in U.S. agriculture and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a last-ditch attempt to pass ag labor reform on the Omnibus Spending bill failed on Thursday. The bill, dubbed the Affordable and Secure Food Act, was championed by Senator Bennet after 18 months of negotiations between him and Senator Crapo (R-Idaho).

NPC CEO Kam Quarles said, “We are deeply disappointed that agricultural labor reform could not be passed in the Senate. Although the bill improved upon the bipartisan House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act, major national ag organizations still couldn’t support it. This division in agriculture has existed for over 20 years, through three major bipartisan efforts to deliver relief for growers. Those obstructing organizations are directly responsible for the wage increases and other program failures that growers will suffer in the coming years.”

The NPC-supported bill, which would reform and streamline the current H-2A visa program, provide a legal status for the existing workforce, mandate the use of E-Verify, and limit the explosive growth of the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, did not garner enough support attach it to the Omnibus spending bill. This inaction likely dooms any bipartisan ag labor reforms for at least two years.

“NPC thanks Senator Bennet, Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID), Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Senator Crapo for the hours of time they spent working to deliver a solution for U.S. agriculture. This crisis isn’t going away and neither are we. We are dedicated to delivering results that keep American growers competitive, ensure a legal workforce, and provide value for consumers,” said RJ Andrus, NPC Vice President of Government Affairs.