Delgado-Backed Legislation to Address Agricultural Workforce Shortage Passes House

December 12, 2019
Press Release
Historic Farm Workforce Modernization Act Would Make Critical Modernizations to the H-2A Program to Ensure Farms in NY-19 Can Access Needed Employees

WASHINGTON, DC—Last night, Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) joined a bipartisan coalition in voting to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Delgado, would ensure upstate New York farmers can access the employees they need through reforms and expansion of the H-2A agricultural guestworker program. The bill represents a historic compromise between the agriculture industry and farmworkers who secured a path to legal status and eventually citizenship as part of the bill’s provisions.

“Supporting our family farmers in NY-19 must include ensuring they have access to a reliable workforce. During my town halls and farm tours across the district, I’ve heard from dairy, organic, and diversified farmers about the need to modernize and streamline the H-2A visa program,” said Delgado, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. “I was proud to join a bipartisan coalition in voting to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a historic bill that both simplifies and broadens the scope of the H-2A application process; and adds critical protections for agricultural employees. Notably, this legislation would allow dairy to access the H-2A farmworker program, a critical priority for our upstate dairy farmers. This legislation ends a decades-old impasse in our agricultural economy and it shows that we can get things done when we put politics aside and work together. This bill will benefit our family farmers and local upstate economy and I urge the Senate to take it up as soon as possible.”

Background:

Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guestworker program is in need of meaningful, bipartisan reform.  The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a workforce solution for America’s agriculture industry by providing stability, predictability, and fairness to one of the most critical sectors of our nation’s economy.

The bill will:

  • Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment.
  • Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
  • Establish mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.

As a member of the Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Small Business Committees, Delgado has prioritized bringing the voices of small farmers to Washington. During his first year in office, Rep. Delgado established and met with his Agriculture Advisory Committee, toured more than 25 farms, and sat down with local farmers across the district to hear about localized infrastructure, technology needs, and sustainable farming practices. In addition, Rep. Delgado introduced H.R. 2336, the Family Farmer Relief Act in April, which the President signed into law.