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United Fresh, US Apple endorse Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Workers harvest artichokes at Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, CA.

PRESS RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 30, 2019) – The United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458 applauds the introduction of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

This legislation represents an important step forward addressing to the challenge that the fresh produce industry faces with regards to labor availability and answers the call from the industry in September during United Fresh’s Washington Conference.

“I want to thank Chairwoman Lofgren and Congressman Dan Newhouse for their leadership in introducing this bill. Joined by a broad, bipartisan group of legislators, these two members have reached an agreement that will reform our immigration system for generations to come”, said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO, United Fresh Produce Association.

“More work is needed to improve this legislation, but in a time where Washington can’t seem to agree on anything, these members have stepped forward and recognized that the challenge of immigration reform is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem, it is an American problem, and we need to fix it.”

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would provide legal status for long-term agriculture workers, make vital improvements to the H-2A visa program and ensure security for all by requiring that agriculture employers participate in the E-Verify program.

Contact: Mary Coppola

STATEMENT by Jim Bair, President & CEO, U.S. Apple Association BB #:145473

“The U.S. Apple Association applauds Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA,) Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and others for the introduction of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, meaningful agriculture labor reforms that will greatly benefit the U.S. apple industry, which relies heavily on foreign born labor.

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will stabilize the current agricultural workforce by creating a process for them to gain work authorization to continue working in agriculture. The bill also brings needed modernization and cost containment to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program.

“The legislation represents a significant improvement over the status quo for our growers in the H-2A program and those who employ domestic workers. The legislation is a compromise and the first step in a lengthy process. We will continue to provide input and seek improvements as that process moves forward.

“Each year growers coast to coast face uncertainty as to whether there will be sufficient labor to harvest the crop. The current system causes an unstable situation for not only apple growers, but for all farmers who depend on immigrant labor to bring Americans healthy and affordable food. A stable, legal and reliable workforce is critical if we are to continue to have a vibrant domestic apple supply. For these reasons, we urge Congress to pass this legislation.”