AFBF optimistic about vote on ag labor bill

A farm group leader says he hopes the House will schedule a vote on foreign worker legislation this month.  American Farm Bureau’s Paul Schlegel tells Brownfield, “I feel cautiously optimistic we’re going to get to the point where we can get the bill brought to the floor.”

Schlegel says the Ag and Legal Workforce Act would be open to all of agriculture and simplify the process for farmers, but it’s not perfect.  “The one issue which seems to have divided people is how the legislation treats the current workforce in agriculture.  Some people feel it needs to give greater certainty and more flexibility to the current workforce.”

The bill written by Congressman Bob Goodlatte would also move ag labor enforcement to USDA and away from the Department of Labor.

The bill would mandate all employers including farmers to use the e-verify system to check a worker’s legal status.  That’s a provision opposed by the California Farm Bureau and the Western Growers Association.

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