Diaz-Balart Commends Passage of Farm Workforce Modernization Act
Mar 22, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart released the following statement after the House passed The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill spearheaded by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), and colleagues.
“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a piece of legislation that my colleagues and I spent almost a year negotiating and working on,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart. “This bill modernizes our antiquated H2A visa system that America’s farmers and growers have long suffered from and provides stability and permanence to agricultural workers; all while strengthening our national security, bolstering our economy, and adhering to the rule of law. Today, we took a significant and necessary step once again toward finally solving the labor crisis facing our nation’s agriculture industry. As I have always stated, it is absolutely critical that we continue to grow and produce our food here in our own backyard. Once we hand that power to another country, we not only risk our national security but also destroy millions of American jobs. I am proud to be one of the main negotiators of this crucial legislation, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to work with us, so this bill can finally be signed into law."
“In the first two and a half months of 2021, illegal immigration has reached a crisis point," said Rep. Newhouse. "In order to maintain the rule of law and keep criminals out of our country, Congress must continue working to enhance our border security. One way to enhance our border security is my legislation, The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which is the bipartisan, targeted labor solution our agriculture industry needs. By creating a viable and desperately-needed agriculture labor program, we remove opportunities to work illegally in the United States, strengthening our border security, and ensuring we have a reliable, legal workforce for our farms and ranches for years to come. Today’s passage marks an important step forward for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to perfect the legislation, send it to the President’s desk, and deliver historic and meaningful reforms for American agriculture.”
The bill has garnered the wide-spread support of more than 300 agriculture groups and labor organizations.
"Florida farmers need a stable, legal workforce to plant and harvest the fruits and vegetables that help feed America, but the reality is growers are facing a critical shortage,” said Mike Joyner, President of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “Today’s passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the House is a step forward in addressing the workforce crisis facing farmers in Florida and across the country. We commend Rep. Diaz-Balart for his leadership and the key role he has played in the development of this bill. He has continued to be a champion on this issue for Florida agriculture, and we deeply appreciate his efforts to help meet the needs of Florida growers.”
“Florida Citrus Mutual is pleased that we are starting to again discuss reforming the farm workforce through this bill. It is extremely important to the nation’s agriculture commodities, including citrus. We can’t thank Congressman Diaz-Balart enough for his leadership on finding solutions,” said Michael W. Sparks, Executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “Having a reliable and efficient workforce is paramount to the future of Florida citrus. We look forward to working with Congress to successfully address this complex issue.”
"We appreciate Congressman Diaz-Balart's efforts and the impact this has on agriculture statewide and in the Florida strawberry industry," said Kenneth Parker, Executive Director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. "It is a tremendous step in the right direction in addressing agricultural workforce reform."
“FNGLA salutes U.S. Representative Diaz-Balart for his support of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act,” said Ben Bolusky, CEO of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA). “This bill represents a meaningful step to address the systemic shortage of those willing and able to work in Florida’s nursery and other agriculture operations.”
“Thanks to Congressman Diaz-Balart’s leadership, the importance of the agriculture workforce crisis has come to the forefront at the highest levels of government, bringing the promise of a solution for our industry in the near future,” said Paul Meador, Managing Partner of Bear Hammock Grove, LLC, and Constituent from LaBelle, FL.
“Florida dairy farmers are appreciative of Congressman Diaz-Balart’s leadership and efforts in the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the House," said Joe Wright, President of Southeast Milk, Inc. "This legislation provides dairy farmers with much-needed access to the H-2A program and makes way for progress in achieving agriculture workforce reform.”
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 and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
- 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 a 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.