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27 Mar 2024

By Monica Cordero, Investigate Midwest (USA)

Farmworker advocates take issue with U.S. House ag committee recommendations on H-2A program

In response to the agriculture industry declaring a growing labor shortage, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee released a report on the H-2A guest worker program that outlines 20 specific recommendations. …

Farmworker advocates said the proposals, especially the changes to how worker pay could be calculated, would hurt farmworkers financially. Farmworkers already make low wages.

“Farmworkers need stronger protections and opportunities for permanent legal status to stabilize the agricultural workforce,” said Alexis Guild, vice president of strategy and programs at Farmworker Justice, one of the stakeholders the committee met with.

Another farmworker advocacy group, the Mexico-based Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, said it opposed the proposals.

“The recommendations … will harm H-2A and U.S. workers alike by reducing farm workers’ wages,” said Francisco Diaz, the group’s communications and media relations lead, in a statement. “We shared information about the H-2A program and identified priority concerns for the Agricultural Labor Working Group in a letter. Unfortunately, the final recommendations do not address the majority of the issues we raised, and fall short of providing the solutions needed to truly stabilize the agricultural workforce.”

It’s unclear when the recommendations might become legislation that the full U.S. House of Representatives can vote on….