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David Sparks Ph.d Ag Bill
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: June 25, 2018

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The house is expected shortly to take up two immigration bills. One, unlikely to address agriculture and another that could include farmworker provisions. Known as the Goodlatte Bill, it would create a new H2C visa program that would allow for year round farm labor. Paul Schlagel with the American Farm Bureau Federation says it is far from certain that the bill will pass. “It’s probably a fair inference that Goodlatte, if it had the votes, would have been scheduled before now. The fact that it wasn’t scheduled you can probably assume it fell short but I have no clue about the number of votes.” Schlagel says the Goodlatte bill contains a number of favorable provisions but there is a concern about the touchback requirements in the bill. “When you think ag, we need a new program but we also need a transition which affects our current workforce and the current workforce is critical to make sure that we can maintain what we are doing while we get into a new program and on that issue a transition in the current workforce, the bill probably falls short of what we need.” An ag specific immigration bill could also be up for consideration in July. Schlagel says it is time for Congress to act on the issue. “It is almost 20 years to the day when the first ag jobs bill was introduced by Gordon Smith July 21, 1998 so for 20 years we have been on Congress’s doorstep asking for a solution and we cannot wait any longer.” That’s a voice in Washington that all farmers can agree with.

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