More than 300 agricultural organizations have come out in support of reforming the nation’s guestworker program, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
Advocates say it would help ease chronic shortages of farmworkers and give them legal status. The bill also gives undocumented workers and their families a path to stay in this country without fear of deportation, which means farmers would have a stable workforce for the nation’s food supply.
Tom Gotelli with O-G Packing in Stockton raises and packs walnuts, cherries, and blueberries. He says mechanization replaces many workers but not all.
“Walnuts are usually picked by hand, now there’s machinery, but cherries are probably one of the last to be picked by a machine,” he said.
The bill allows farmworkers to obtain legal status by continued agricultural employment.
California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson grows olives and citrus fruit in Oroville. He says the bureau is committed to work for the bill’s passage.
“It does create 60,000 additional visas to start off with for the first three years that can be used for year-round agricultural needs such as our dairies and our horticultural needs in our nursery,” he said.
Labor is also behind the act with the United Farm Workers Union urging Congress to pass it by the end of the month.
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