UPDATE: Congressional Action on Immigration & Farm Bills

July 04, 2018
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During the last two weeks of June, the House of Representatives considered both agricultural guest worker legislation and the Farm Bill. The guest worker legislation failed while the Farm Bill advanced.

Guest Worker

The House recently had a narrow opportunity to advance a new guest worker visa program. On June 21, the House considered an immigration bill (H.R. 4760) that included a proposal that would have replaced the existing H-2A program with a new H-2C program. The proposed H-2C program would have provided visas for current undocumented agricultural workers already living and working in the U.S., and would allow for future guest workers. The bill failed by a vote of 193 yeas to 231 nays.

The House considered a second compromise immigration measure (H.R. 6136) the following week. Despite efforts to include guest worker provisions, ultimately guest worker provisions were not included in the final version of the bill. This bill also failed, 121-301.

Background: It is vital that Congress act to create a reliable and efficient guest worker visa program for current and future agricultural workers. The Commission has been working with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and staff who agreed to a series of concessions to improve the guest worker proposal, making the program more workable for ag employers and farmworkers, alike. Goodlatte's improvements have addressed many concerns: most notably, the legislation has alleviated concerns over the initial touchback and has clarified the cap, which only applies to new workers. To see the guest worker provisions as included in H.R. 4760, visit: http://link.calstrawberry.com/dbd05

Farm Bill

Both the House and the Senate have advanced their respective chambers' versions of the Farm Bill: legislation that would reform and reauthorize programs and services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for fiscal years 2019-2023. The full House approved the measure on June 21 by a vote of 213 - 211; the Senate approved their version of the bill on June 28 by a vote of 86-11.

Past Farm Bills have included authorizations and funding for several programs which benefit California strawberry production. After an initial review of the two versions of the bills, as proposed, the Commission has identified provisions on trade, research, mechanization, and the school lunch /nutrition programs which may benefit our industry. At this time, the Commission is still analyzing recent amendments made by the full House and Senate. Below are links to the Commission's previous updates on earlier versions of the Farm Bill:

House version of the Farm Bill, visit: http://link.calstrawberry.com/newsd964c7

Senate version of the Farm Bill, visit: http://link.calstrawberry.com/sdf29b

A conference committee is now tasked to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. CSC will be closely following the activities of the Farm Bill as it advances through the legislative process. If you have any questions, please contact CSC's Public Policy office at 916.445.3335.