U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (both D-California) introduced the Agricultural Worker Protection Act of 2019 (H.R. 641). Lofgren is the new chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee; Feinstein is ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Under the proposal, farmworkers who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days in the past two years may earn blue card status, allowing them to continue to legally work in the U.S. Farmworkers who maintain blue card status for the next three years or five years – depending on hours worked in agriculture – would be eligible to adjust to lawful permanent residence (green card) and eventually work toward citizenship.
The bill would also offer protection for spouses and children already physically present with the worker, according to Charlie Garrison, federal dairy lobbyist, writing in a Western United Dairymen newsletter.
“The labor shortage is a major constraint to farm production and growth across the country, and solving this problem is a priority for Farm Bureau,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO, said the proposal works to address agriculture’s needs by providing farmers with access to a legal workforce, a key element in the solution to the dairy industry’s workforce challenges.
The bill has 11 co-sponsors in the Senate and nearly 60 co-sponsors in the House. All are Democrats, and many represent major dairy states.
- Progressive Dairyman
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