Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) have introduced H.R. 4916, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, which would create a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented agriculture workers, streamline the H-2A process, and improve the immigration system so that farmers can get the workers they need to thrive. In response, New American Economy put out the following statement:
“One of the biggest challenges facing American agriculture is the lack of a steady, reliable workforce,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “This bipartisan legislation would provide a remedy – and serve as an important first step toward the broader immigration reform that Americans want Congress to pass.”
Research from New American Economy finds that supporting immigrant farmworkers would help:
- Fill crucial gaps in the agricultural labor force not met by U.S.-born workers. Between 2002 and 2014, the number of full-time field and crop workers dropped by at least 146,000 people or more than 20 percent, resulting in a major labor shortage on U.S. farms.
- Bolster our country’s ability to produce labor-intensive fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. If labor shortages were not an issue, the production of these crops would be worth an additional $3.1 billion per year.
- Expand related non-farm industries like trucking, marketing, and equipment manufacturing. $3.1 billion in additional farm production would lead to almost $2.8 billion in added spending on related services, and it would create more than 41,000 additional non-farm jobs each year.