Farm Workforce Modification Act Aims to Reform the H-2A Program
Congress has reintroduced the Farm Workforce Modification Act (FWMA) with bipartisan support. This bill aims to reform the H-2A program by legalizing agricultural workers and enhancing accessibility for growers requiring year-round labor.
Influential advocacy organizations such as Western Growers and United Farm Workers back the proposal, but it also faces criticism for its potential impacts on labor and wages.
What are the goals of this act?
The Farm Labor Reform Act aims to address labor challenges in the U.S. agricultural industry. The key objectives are:
- Establish a stable and legal workforce: The FWMA would create a dependable way for U.S. growers to hire farm labor and eradicate illicit labor practices. It would establish a system that ensures access to a legal and stable workforce for the agricultural sector.
- Manage labor shortages: The Act aims to combat domestic labor shortages within the agricultural industry by establishing flexible visa programs that accommodate seasonal and year-round employment.
- Enhancing worker protections: Due to the hazardous nature of farm work, the FWMA enhances basic protections for agricultural workers. These include equitable wages and safe working conditions.
Implications for the U.S. workforce
Growers in the United States are grappling with a shortage of migrant labor for essential harvesting activities. This scarcity arises from the dual challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent immigration reform measures.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that the average age of agricultural workers in the U.S. has increased from 31 in 2000 to 38 in 2016. This shift can be attributed to the reduced influx of new migrant workers entering the field.
Sources: Produce Blue Book, Reuters, Telemundo