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Upton speaks on House floor in support of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Washington, December 11, 2019 | Josh Paciorek (202-225-3761)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today delivered remarks on the House floor in support of bipartisan legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This landmark legislation aims to address the shortage of workers available in the U.S. agriculture industry by helping build a legal and reliable workforce.

Upton is an original co-sponsor, and the final vote will happen this evening.

Click here  to watch Upton’s remarks.


Full remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier this year, the President speaking at the National Farm Bureau convention called for legislation regarding agriculture immigration, and he acknowledged that the ag community, in his words, “Needs people to help with the farms,” and that's what this bill does.

As much as most of us would like to wave a magic wand and fix a very broken system, you know what, we failed. But it's not for the lack of trying. We simply haven't had the votes - whether it's more or less border security, whether it's too comprehensive or too less. We can't even fix the dreamer issue. Come on.

This ag bill - it's going to pass, thank goodness. And I want to thank Jimmy Panetta and Dan Newhouse, other members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, particularly Chair Lofgren, who helped deliver legislation here to the House floor this afternoon.

Would I like to do more? You bet. But you know at the moment this is the only step we can do on a bipartisan basis this year. Let's just face it. If we can't pass a narrow bill, when is it going to happen? This is the first step. So let's get it done.

This bill will provide a long overdue and desperately needed overhaul to the H-2A program and builds on the July 2019 Department of Labor’s proposed H-2A reforms.

Key provisions include a freeze on the Adverse Effect Wage Rate – which have directly led to dozens of farm closures in my district in Michigan; a streamlined and modernized application process – to encourage more widespread adoption; and creating a year-round H-2A visa – allowing all of agriculture to utilize the program.

Now is the time, finally, to at least boldly act to pass a real ag labor reform to ensure that our ag community has the work force that it needs to remain the envy of the world. I would urge all of my colleagues to support this, and I yield back the balance of my time.”



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