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Courtney Votes to Pass Farm Workforce Modernization Act

December 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), a bipartisan bill that seeks to address the growing labor crisis in the agriculture industry by creating a new pathway to legal status for undocumented citizens working in the U.S. agriculture industry. Due to the diminishing supply of U.S. workers participating in farm labor, American farmers are increasingly reliant upon foreign workers to meet labor demands. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will help to stabilize the agriculture sector and preserve rural heritage by ensuring that farmers can meet their labor needs well into the future. H.R. 5038 represents the first major agriculture labor reform since 1986.

“Eastern Connecticut is home to some of the most productive dairy farms in the country – it’s part of our heritage in New England,” said Congressman Courtney. “Shortages in labor availability for them can cause ripple effects across our entire economy, and only serves to increase America’s reliance on foreign food. We’ve got to find more ways to work together to get things done in Washington, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is another example of the critical work we can accomplish here to help solve the real problems facing our agriculture industry. On behalf of Connecticut’s hard-working dairy farmers, I was proud to help pass this bipartisan bill.”

“We applaud House passage today of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which takes significant strides to make badly needed improvements to agriculture immigration policy that address dairy’s unique workforce challenges,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Congressman Courtney has been a longtime champion on this important issue for Connecticut dairy farmers and we thank him for championing this effort and providing momentum to move this important bill through the House.”

“We can no longer function without the necessary workers required to take care of our animals and tend to our crops,” said Seth Bahler, Owner of Oakridge Dairy Farm, the largest dairy farm in the State of Connecticut. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses the workforce needs for our dairy and we support this legislation and our excited about this bill.”

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 will stabilize the agricultural sector by ensuring that farmers can meet their labor needs well into the future. Importantly, this bill expands access to H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, to dairy farmers.