Modesto, Calif., (May 11, 2017) – Two different initiatives by members of the California congressional delegation in the past two weeks show that the state’s elected officials intend to maintain their leadership role in passing legislation to address the farm workforce crisis.
Four members of the House delegation sent a bipartisan letter to President Donald Trump recently asking that his administration support legislation that would allow agricultural operations to access legal workers when they are needed. Republicans Jeff Denham and David Valadao and Democrats Jim Costa and Jimmy Panetta signed the letter to the President. All four represent districts where agriculture is the economic backbone of the community.
Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) introduced a stand-alone bill to address the lack of available workers for agriculture. Newly-elected California Senator Kamala Harris (D) is a cosponsor of this bill that is modeled after the agriculture labor provisions of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill from 2013. That bill ultimately passed the U.S. Senate with a large bipartisan majority with the agricultural visa provisions intact. The House, however, never took up the bill so that was yet another opportunity to provide a solution to the farm workforce crisis that went by the wayside.
The House letter sends a strong bipartisan message to the White House asking for help to solve the farm workforce crisis. WUD thanks Representatives Denham, Valadao, Costa and Panetta for bringing this top priority issue for California dairy producers to the attention of the new administration. We also thank Senator Feinstein for her continued leadership on the issue and for raising the profile of the farm workforce crisis by introducing another bill. We look forward to working with her and Senator Harris on future legislation that would provide legal status for our current workers, access to year-round workers for jobs like those on dairies and access to legal new workers when they are needed in the future. There is no higher priority for our industry than passing federal legislation to solve the farm workforce crisis.