Immigration Reform Plan
October 3 the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors gave their support to the agriculture visa reform proposal recommended by the Agricultural Visa Workgroup, which was comprised of state Farm Bureau staff members from around the country. Washington Farm Bureau’s Scott Dilley, a member of the workgroup, explains that this all started with a change in AFB policy at the annual meeting.
DILLEY: There was enough support for including the word portable in our immigration reform policy. The organization wanted to go with a plan that provided agricultural employers with employees from a guest worker program that of course would be overseen by the federal government and be portable in some way so that workers could move from one place to another depending on where the labor needs are.
How would this proposal affect the current H-2A program.
DILLEY: This new workgroup proposal will leave the H-2A program alone. Because H-2A just isn’t working, we didn’t want to go in and reform H-2A , we simply wanted to set up a new program that actually will work for all of the different commodities.
Dilley explains how this would work.
DILLEY: That system would allow for farmers to apply for guest workers to come in on either a contract basis or a non-contract basis. If the grower knows that he’s going to need x-number of workers at a certain time then he can go ahead and apply for those workers once he’s met certain work search criteria.
Under this program employers would not be required to provide housing or transportation, there would be no visa cap, and no requirement to pay a higher wage than the higher of Federal or state minimum wage. AFB will now work with other ag groups to get the program embodied into Congressional legislation.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Ag Information Network.