H-2A Bill Senate

H-2A Bill Senate

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, I’m Bob Larson. Just introduced Senate legislation to reform the H-2A Ag guest worker program, faces slim odds as the lame-duck session winds down.

More than 350 food, farm groups came together on the bill sponsored by Colorado Democrat Michael Bennett …

BENNETT … “Increases the number of H-2A visas and

opens the program up to year-round jobs for the first time ever, it creates wage certainty for farmers to protect them from harmful swings in labor costs.”

Saving farmers, Bennett claims, 23 billion over 12 years or two billion more than a House-passed version …

BENNETT … “It is disappointing that we haven’t been able to get a Republican in the Senate to act in a bipartisan way, the way the House Republicans that were here this morning were able to do…but, hopes springs eternal, because time is not our ally, here.”

The Senate version creates renewable legal status for farm workers, with the opportunity for permanent legal status over time.

Some Senate Republicans call that amnesty, ahead of securing the southern border …

BENNETT … “That’s not amnesty, that’s a recognition that anybody who’s spent decades working to feed America, should have the opportunity to apply for lawful status.”

But legislatively, it’s a last-minute, ‘hail Mary’ …

BENNETT … “The difficulty we’ve had is disentangling the politics…and I think we have to set that politics aside, if we’re going to do the right thing for American agriculture.”

Politics complicated with passing a giant budget on Christmas eve.

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