Torres Small Supported Ag. Workforce Bill Step Closer to Becoming Law

December 11, 2019
Press Release
Farm Workforce Modernization Act passes House of Representatives following NM-2 agricultural roundtable highlighting its urgency

Washington, DC – This weekend, Congresswoman Torres Small hosted a roundtable with the New Mexican farmers and agricultural producers highlighting the urgent need for legislation that meets the modern labor demands of the state’s agricultural industry. As an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, Torres Small highlighted the legislation as a solution to provide stability for New Mexico’s agricultural industry and her continuous efforts to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle for its swift passage.

Today, the House of Representatives voted and passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act on a bipartisan vote. Congresswoman Torres Small released the following statement in response:

“I came to Congress to work with anyone to deliver for New Mexico. The bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act helps address the workforce shortage facing agricultural producers across the state. I’ve met with farmers and ranchers from all over the district and they made it clear this type of reform was needed. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure our state’s agricultural producers have access to the reliable, legal workforce they need.”

New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte also highlighted the bill for its efforts to bring stability to the state’s agricultural industry. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is an important step in bringing certainty to our agriculture sector. Labor has become the number 1 limiting factor in a stable rural economy and growth in our agriculture sector.  New Mexico has robust dairy, pecan and produce family farms among others who depend on a reliable and legal workforce,” said Witte.

The bill will:

  • Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
  • Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
  • Establish mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.