House Judiciary Committee Approves Goodlatte Agriculture Labor Reform Legislation

NMPF applauded the efforts of the House Judiciary Committee and its Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) last month after the committee approved legislation that would establish an entirely new visa program for the agriculture workforce.

The Agriculture Guestworker (AG) Act (H.R. 4092) would replace the existing H-2A temporary visa program, which dairy farmers largely cannot use because their labor needs are year-round, not seasonal. In addition, it would allow currently undocumented farm workers to apply for H-2C visas so that they can participate legally in the agricultural workforce. The measure was developed by Goodlatte after NMPF provided input to the committee about the workforce needs of America’s dairy farms.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said the AG Act would help advance efforts to assure a stable, dependable and legal workforce for America’s dairy farmers, now and in the future. “The AG Act is the first step in a long process of establishing a workable solution for dairy farmers’ labor needs,” he said. “While it is not the ideal bill, it does recognize that we must improve on the current system by pursuing a new approach to matching the supply and demand for workers in U.S. agriculture.”

He added that the bill merits the support of America’s farming community, and its refinement and passage must be a priority for congressional leaders. It will also be important for dairy farmers to continue making their voices heard on this critically important issue, he said.