Congress Reintroduces Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Congress Reintroduces Farm Workforce Modernization Act
July 18, 2023

A group of legislators in the House of Representatives has reintroduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This bill would increase the availability of foreign workers in the United States.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act has passed in the House twice but never passed the Senate. Should the Senate approve, it would update the H-2A visa program, which is an agricultural guest worker program. Those favoring the Act claim it would give employers more flexibility while ensuring workers receive protections.

The bill would make the H-2A visa program more user-friendly and responsive. Additionally, it would allow industries to use the program to obtain labor all year. It would also benefit workers by creating a program allowing them to gain legal status. However, they must earn the status through continuing agricultural employment and contributions to the U.S.’s agricultural economy.

Rep. Dan Newhouse stated, “The top concern for farmers and ranchers in Central Washington and across the nation is labor, and the problem is only getting worse. As a third-generation farmer, I know first-hand how challenging it is for the agriculture industry to hire and retain labor so we can continue to feed America and the world.” He added, “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the solution to creating a secure, reliable agriculture labor program to provide certainty to our farmers and ranchers for a stable and legal workforce for years to come.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren also supports the law. She claimed, “In the past few years, we’ve seen labor shortages contribute to high food prices. If it wasn’t obvious before, the pandemic made clear that our country’s agricultural workforce rules are in dire need of reform.”

However, some people voiced concerns about the bill requiring E-verify. Despite these concerns, the H-2A reforms and legalizations required employers to use this system.

E-Verify is a web-based system that employers can use to verify the information on an employee’s Form I-9. The system compares the information on I-9 records to the information available to the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration.

Regardless of whether the Act passes, employers hiring foreign national workers must complete the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9). However, they may find it challenging to complete Form I-9s due to the many documents the workers may present. The best way to ensure Form correctly completed Form I-9s is by using an electronic I-9 management system. This system guides employers through the process, ensuring Form I-9 is properly completed and securely stored.

Make things a little less complicated for your business by automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9Compliance.