The House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment to the fiscal 2018 Homeland Security Spending Bill that would help dairy producers and other farmers that need year round labor.
The amendment would expand the types of businesses that can apply for the H-2A visa program for temporary or seasonal workers. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says it would also nullify the requirement that the work would be short term in nature. Washington Republican Dan Newhouse, a farmer himself, was the amendment author and says, “The amendment is a small starting point of relief we can provide our farmers who need workers.”
The amendment doesn’t change how long a worker can stay in the country, which is three years with renewals. It doesn’t change the fact that farmers must first look for American workers. National Milk Producers Federation President Jim Mulhern says the amendment recognizes that we need to create new approaches to getting dairy employers the labor they need.
Labor isn’t as on board with the deal. United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez called the program deeply flawed and was “stunned” that two Democrats supported the measure. The group Farmworker Justice says the amendment does nothing to fix H-2A, which it says is “rife with abuses.”