Newhouse, Cuellar H-2A Amendment included in Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Bipartisan amendment applies Ag guest worker program to all agriculture

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) released the following statements after the House Committee on Appropriations approved an amendment they offered to the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. The legislation provides for critical programs such as border and immigration enforcement, customs activities, protection against cyberterrorism, aviation security, natural disaster response, border security, and temporary guest-workers. Rep. Newhouse and Rep. Cuellar’s bipartisan amendment applies the H-2A program to all of agriculture, and it was adopted by unanimous voice vote:

“Farmers facing a shortage of agriculture labor have not been well-served by the current H-2A program,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Modern agriculture demands modernization of the bureaucratic H-2A program, and as farming methods have become less seasonal or able to produce multiple harvests, the H-2A program must be updated to meet the needs of the agriculture industry. I am grateful to my colleague Rep. Cuellar for working with me on a bipartisan solution to make H-2A more workable for farmers.”

“Today, large segments of American agriculture face a critical lack of workers,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This amendment is simple— it provides the agriculture industry with the access to workers it needs by making clear that all agriculture may utilize H-2A. The reality is that the H-2A program is not working for the entirety of the American agriculture industry. In fact, it excludes non-seasonal agricultural sectors, such as dairy farming, and puts them at a disadvantage. This amendment will clear the path for our farmers and ranchers to gain access to much needed workers that will benefit the local economy in my district and across the country. I would like to thank Rep. Newhouse for working with me in a bipartisan manner to address this issue.”

Newhouse/Cuellar H-2A Amendment Summary:
Rep. Newhouse and Rep. Cuellar’s amendment clarifies that for FY2019 all of agriculture may use the H-2A program. Under the amendment, H-2A would still remain a temporary program. Additionally, the amendment would not change the time limits a worker employed through the H-2A program can stay in the U.S., and it would maintain the requirement that farmers show they are advertising open positions and are trying to hire domestic workers first. The amendment would simply ensure that all of agriculture is able to utilize the program. The agriculture industry’s labor situation has been a concern for many years, and currently large segments of American agriculture face a critical shortage of workers. This shortfall is exacerbated by the fact that the H-2A program is not working for all of agriculture, such as dairies and agriculture operations with multiple crops and harvests.

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