By Clint Thompson
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is in its final stage of being edited and potentially passed in the Senate. Whether it is approved by the end of this year remains a “long shot,” says Bob Redding, who works for the Redding Firm and serves as a lobbyist for agricultural groups in Washington, D.C.
He spoke about the issue during the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in late July.
“I want you to think in these terms. One week, Congress will be in before they go home for the August recess. Three weeks in September and they’re done until after the elections,” Redding said. “I think it is a long shot to think that it is possible to pass one of the most controversial subject initiatives in Congress for many years. I think it will be very tight if they have an agreement to do something. I don’t think it’s enough time.”
The House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in March 2021, which would make changes to the current H-2A agricultural guest worker program.
“The House-passed bill did change traditional H-2A programs to a generic type of program. There were some issues with it. Southeast growers across the board, row crop and the vegetable and fruit growers were concerned about numerous provisions in it and made those concerns known to House and Senate members,” Redding said. “We don’t know quite yet what this package is going to look like. Southeast growers would like to see this really boil down to more technical reforms to the current H-2A program.”