Ag Secretary Wants Congress To Pass Guest-Worker Program

According to POLITICO, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wants Congress to pass an immigration bill overhauling the H-2A agricultural guest-worker program, even though major agriculture groups in the West oppose the measure.

“There is some dispute about it from our Western brethren over whether it addresses all the issues,” the secretary acknowledged at a conference hosted by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. But he thinks it’s about the best ag could get at this point to remedy its persistent labor shortage.

The Western Growers Association and California Farm Bureau oppose the measure, and several Golden State Republicans are wary because it includes an “E-Verify” provision that would require employers to verify the legal status of their workers — potentially hampering their ability to find enough labor.

The legislation from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) would change the existing program (and rebrand it as H-2C) by expanding it to include both seasonal and year-round labor needs. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) are both co-sponsors of the bill, H.R. 6417 (115) .

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