Statement by Jim Bair,
President & CEO
U.S. Apple Association
March 3, 2021
“The U.S. Apple Association applauds today’s reintroduction of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, H.R. 1537. This legislation is a necessary and important first step in addressing the labor crisis growers and other farmers are experiencing. We thank Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and others for reintroducing this meaningful agriculture labor reform that will greatly benefit the U.S. apple industry, which relies heavily on foreign born labor.
“Like the legislation that passed the House in 2019 with broad, bipartisan support, the 2021 Farm Workforce Modernization Act will stabilize the current agricultural workforce by creating a process for them to gain work authorization to continue working in agriculture. The legislation introduced today is substantively the same legislation as in 2019, but includes technical updates to reflect the passing of time.
“The bill also brings needed modernization and cost containment to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program. It represents a significant improvement over the status quo for our growers in the H-2A program and those who employ domestic workers. The legislation is a compromise and the first step in a lengthy process. We will continue to provide input and seek improvements as that process moves forward.
“Each year growers coast to coast face uncertainty as to whether there will be sufficient labor to harvest the crop. The current system causes an unstable situation for not only apple growers, but for all farmers who depend on immigrant labor to bring Americans healthy and affordable food. A stable, legal and reliable workforce is critical if we are to continue to have a vibrant domestic apple supply. For these reasons, we urge Congress to pass this legislation so that it can move to the Senate.”