By Clint Thompson
The final two and a half months of 2021 could be pivotal in Congress’ pursuit of Ag labor reform. John Walt Boatright, director of National Affairs at Florida Farm Bureau Federation, stresses the importance of a Senate Bill being in place before 2022.
“Ag labor reform continues to be a major priority for Florida agriculture. Florida’s now the No. 1 H-2A state in the country. We need to continue to press upon the importance of getting that done sooner rather than later,” Boatright said.
“The challenge becomes us trying to tackle and establish the need to get that done before 2021 ends. When 2022 happens, other priorities are in play at that point. We enter campaign season. There are other issues, other priorities that affect the Congressional business. We need to really work for the next three months to try to work with the Senate to complement the House’s efforts and advance their version of Ag labor reform so we can move that forward.”
Farm Workforce Modernization Act
The House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in March, which would make changes to the current H-2A agricultural guest worker program. Now, it’s up to the Senate.
“It’s not uncommon for one chamber to pass a bill and another chamber to not take up a bill, especially if there are different priorities and different leadership in Congress between the two chambers. But I think that speaks to the complicated nature of Ag labor reform. There’s a reason we’ve been speaking about this for 20 or 30 years,” Boatright said.
“It is a tough, difficult issue. The House thankfully prioritized some Ag labor legislation. Now, as we move to the Senate, we’re working on getting senators to the table, understanding the priorities and need to get something done. Hopefully, we’ll see that through in the next couple of months.”