A bill proposed by Virginia Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte would scrap the current H-2A program which is party controlled by the U.S. Labor Department. It would institute an H-2C program that would be overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Goodlatte has made several amendments to the legislation after listening to concerns from ag groups. A Milk Business Dot Com article says the changes would let farmers have more time to comply with E-Verify. The bill would alleviate concerns over the maximum visa length, extending the term from 18 to 24 months. That change would allow more people to be visa recipients in the program after the first year. It’s not known for sure if the bill will get to the House floor for a vote.
Many Republicans, as well as Secretary Perdue, support the bill. Last month, Perdue expressed concern that if Goodlatte’s bill wasn’t part of a broader package on immigration reform, he didn’t see another opportunity in the near future to address the serious problem of labor shortages in all sectors of agriculture.
While the American Farm Bureau supports the bill, the California Farm Bureau says it wouldn’t work for California farms and ranches as it’s currently written, and plans to offer recommendations on a more practical program.