Congress should overhaul the U.S. guest worker program so it allows foreign laborers to work year-round on farms and in meat processing plants, rather than just seasonally in the fields, said U.S. poultry and livestock groups on Tuesday. Representatives of six groups also supported prompt …
President Trump's proposal for a "merit-based" immigration system that favors younger, highly-trained and high-salary workers is now a 620-page bill that will be released "very soon," said presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday.
President Trump proposed a “points-based” system on Thursday that would put younger, highly trained, and well-paid workers at the front of the line for legal immigration to the United States. The plan was silent on agricultural labor, but farm groups hope to be part of “a broader dialogue” on immigration.
The U.S. House might not vote on an immigration bill this year in large part due to opposition from California farmers, reports McClatchy. Growers say harsh provisions in the bill would gut the state's agricultural work force, so they are working with powerful lawmakers, such as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to keep such a package from going to a floor vote.
The Idaho state Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would allow prison inmates to work in all parts of agriculture, an expansion of the 2014 law that authorized prison labor in businesses that produce perishable foods.
Farmers are among President Trump's staunchest supporters, and they have a response to his threats to scrap NAFTA and rewrite other trade agreements: "Without those global markets, our already-depressed farm economy would go down even more," said Zippy Duvall, leader of the largest U.S. farm group. "Trade should not be a dirty word," Duvall told the estimated 7,000 attendees at American Farm Bureau Federation convention, where Trump is scheduled to speak this afternoon.
The "Brexodus" — the British withdrawal from the EU — "is being felt particularly acutely in the agriculture industry, which relies heavily on manual laborers, especially from poor European countries like Romania and Bulgaria," says the New York Times. Thousands of foreign-born workers have left England, or have decided not to return to harvest-time jobs on farms or other industries.
Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, sponsor of a bill that would give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and their families, says he will retire after 13 terms in the House.
The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld a 2002 state law that allows mediation of deadlocked contract negotiations between growers and farmworker unions, including the power of mediators to set the contract terms, reported the Associated Press. The decision was a victory for "the union launched by iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez against one of the largest U.S. fruit farms," said AP.