According to NBC News, America’s farmers have joined the big-business push for increased immigration to import cheaper and more exploitable H-2A visa workers, arguing that such a move would ease labor shortages and lower food prices.
Farmers have rallied around the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which had already passed the House before stalling in the Senate. They argue that the bill will “provide them with a stable reliable workforce by creating a path to citizenship for undocumented agricultural workers and reforming the seasonal farmworker visa program, among other things.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who sponsored the House bill, stated:
At a time when labor shortages are contributing to inflation and high food prices, it’s clear that we need the Senate to pass our Farm Workforce Modernization Act to stabilize the agricultural workforce and protect America’s food supply.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Food costs are now 10% higher than they were at this time last year.” Additionally, according to the consumer price index, the country has experienced the highest 12-month increase in food prices since May 1979.
However, farmers’ support for the bill has created some strife with worker groups who argue that the Farm Workforce Modernization Act does not go far enough and would “further exacerbate power imbalances between farm owners and migrant workers.”
“The Senate version of the legislation, sponsored by Sens. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, and Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, would modify and further open up the widely used H-2A temporary work visa program to give undocumented farmworkers year-round work-based residency with an eventual pathway to citizenship,” reports NBC News.
Stephanie Mickelsen, a farm operator, chair of the American Farm Bureau Labor Committee, and currently running unopposed for a state office in Idaho, stated:
We have about 60 full-time people that work on the farm all year long, but that is not enough when you hit harvest to be able to get that crop out of the ground, so we need an additional 100 to 150 employees on the farm side, that’s not including the processing and packing facilities. I would hire domestic workers, but they don’t seem to exist.
You can read the complete article here.
Updated: Tue, Sep 27th 2022 @ 1:59pm EDT