October 4, 2023

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) reintroduced H.R. 4319, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, alongside Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), John Duarte (R-CA), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). The legislation, which passed the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support in the 116th and 117th Congresses, makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.

“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,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse. “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.”

“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,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act stabilizes the workforce, which will protect the future of our farms and our food supply. It’s well-past time we get this legislation that serves the best interests of our country to the President’s desk.”

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“IFPA members representing the entirety of the fresh produce and floral supply chains are desperate for reforms that will ensure that we have access to an affordable and reliable workforce. We applaud the authors of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act for once again stepping forward with a bipartisan solution that meets our most pressing labor needs including addressing the burdensome and expensive H-2A program. IFPA stands ready to work with Congressman Newhouse and his colleagues to pass the meaningful reforms we need to continue producing fruit, vegetable, and floral products here in America,” said Robert Guenther, Chief Public Policy Officer, International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA).

“We thank Representatives Lofgren and Newhouse for reintroducing their bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Ag workforce reform has been a top priority for America’s dairy farmers and farmworkers for decades, and NMPF has been working for reform measures that better serve dairy. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act takes a significant step toward the improvements we need, and we applaud Reps. Lofgren, Newhouse, and the bill’s other cosponsors for their continued leadership on this difficult issue. NMPF looks forward to continuing to work with these leaders and strengthen the legislation as it advances,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation.

“The reality is, access to a stable and reliable workforce is the only way we can continue as an industry. We commend Representative Newhouse for his tireless efforts to reform our broken agriculture labor system,” said Jim Bair, President and CEO, U.S. Apple Association.

“Systems that establish a secure, reliable workforce for American farmers and ranchers are necessary to our food supply. A flexible, efficient and streamlined visa program is a vital part of that, as an estimated half of the U.S. agricultural workforce is foreign-born. NASDA is proud to once again support the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan, comprehensive solution to securing our nation’s food supply by building a stable and reliable workforce. We thank Representatives Newhouse and Lofgren for introducing this legislation and addressing a critical issue for American agriculture,” said Ted McKinney, CEO, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).

“We thank Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Dan Newhouse and their colleagues for reintroducing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act this Congress – a bill that passed the House twice in recent years. Many of us have spent tireless hours negotiating this bipartisan legislation and we commend this reintroduction and look forward to continuing to work toward a viable solution for agriculture,” said Dave Puglia, President and CEO, Western Growers.

“This country is in a crisis – if we want Americans to be able to eat affordable, safe food and to be able to feed ourselves independently as a nation, rather than rely on imports, we need the House to pass this newly re-introduced bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act and we need to Senate to do its part this time. By making sure we have a legal and reliable workforce for the agriculture industry, it will provide ag producers, their employees, and all American consumers the stability we deserve,” said Rebecca Shi, Executive Director, American Business Immigration Coalition Action.

“The UFW welcomes the reintroduction of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Our view is simple: If you feed America, you have earned the right to stay in America. This bill meets that moral imperative – delivering farm workers’ most urgent priority – as well as meeting many of the needs of agricultural employers. Farm workers proved themselves essential during the pandemic and continue to put food on Americans’ tables every day. Legal status for these essential immigrant workers is long overdue and we ask all Members of Congress to work for its passage,” said Teresa Romero, President, United Farm Workers (UFW).

 “The current H-2A program’s limitation to seasonal employment leaves many industries without the stable workforce that is vital to our food supply chain. Food security is national security, and agricultural labor shortages threaten our ability to grow food for the nation. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a commonsense solution that ensures our farmers have access to a legal and reliable workforce and streamlines the process for the future flow of workers,” said Rep. David Valadao.

“America relies on the hardworking men and women who help put food on our table. Our farm workers protect our food security and provide working families with high-quality, affordable food. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act helps the Central Valley by protecting our workforce, ensuring the future of our farms, and streamlining our visa process. I am proud to join both Democrats and Republicans alike in helping reintroduce this crucial piece of legislation,” said Rep. John Duarte.

“There is perhaps no more important facet of immigration reform for Idaho and its economy than providing a stable and secure workforce for American agriculture. For anyone who doubts the importance of this issue, speak with the farmers and ranchers who feed and clothe our nation – labor is often their number one concern. It is time for Congress to address this critical issue, and I am proud to join with my colleagues once again in introducing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which will do just that,” said Rep. Mike Simpson.

“Providing a path to legal residency for the men and women who work to put food on our dinner tables is long overdue. California’s farming communities have dealt with worker shortages for years, a problem that got worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. These workers feed Americans and deserve a path to legal residency,” said Rep. Jim Costa.

“Farmers and farmworkers continue to face uncertainty due to our country’s broken and bureaucratic immigration system. By providing an earned path to legal status for those willing to continue working in agriculture as well as a streamlined H-2A visa process, we’ll strengthen our community and promote the enduring farm workforce we need to ensure our nation’s food security. I’m proud to once again stand with a bipartisan coalition to introduce a commonsense path forward with the Farm Workforce Modernization Act,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta.

“Working alongside my father in the fields, I witnessed firsthand the struggles and sacrifices that our agricultural labor force endures. The Central Coast’s number one industry is agriculture, but our broken immigration system has made it difficult for producers and harvesters alike to find stability. I have spoken with growers about the devastating labor shortages caused by seasonal labor restrictions and complex program applications. By providing earned legal status for existing farmworkers and modernizing the guest worker program, this groundbreaking, bipartisan bill is a major step in reforming our imsmigration system and providing long term industry sustainability,” said Rep. Salud Carbajal.

“South Texas agriculture needs a quality, reliable workforce. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will make long overdue changes to the H-2A program to better serve our farmers and farmworkers. I applaud my colleagues, Reps. Lofgren (D-CA-18) and Newhouse (R-WA-4), for working with me to deliver this important, bipartisan bill,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar.

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is vital legislation that provides much-needed security to farmworkers and their employers, ensuring a stable workforce under fair and safe conditions. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee last Congress, I was proud to shepherd the bill to passage in the House with then-Immigration Subcommittee Chair Lofgren. Now, I urge the Majority to bring this bill to the floor once again to finally provide a seat at America’s table for those who have long grown the food we serve on it,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.


Farmers and ranchers across Central Washington and the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, farmworkers need a stable future, and the current H-2A guestworker program needs meaningful, bipartisan reform.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was negotiated over eight months in 2019 with input from farmers, agricultural stakeholders, labor organizations, and farmworker advocates. In December 2019, it became the first agriculture labor reform legislation to pass the House of Representatives since 1986. Since its passage, a bipartisan coalition of Members has continually been working to move the bill through the legislative process.

This legislation:

  • Reforms the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers.
  • Establishes a program for agricultural workers in the United States to choose to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
  • Focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.


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