Efforts to resolve the agricultural labor crisis have been complicated by the partisan Reconciliation Bill that kicked off last week. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Crapo have been working on a bipartisan basis to improve on the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
That bill was approved by nearly every Democrat in the House and 30 Republicans. It seeks to provide improvements in all three essential areas for ag labor reform: Legalizing the current workforce, making the H-2A guest worker program serve the current and future needs of agriculture and greatly increasing security.
However, it has been suggested this week that the budget reconciliation process may be used to address one or two of these areas; legalizing the current workforce and funding smart technology for border security, including possibly mandatory e-verify. This may leave the guestworker reforms element behind.
“Senators Crapo and Bennet should be commended for working across party lines to secure the future of labor dependent agriculture and its essential workers. We encourage the Senate leadership to allow them to do their bipartisan work.