Farm labor reform remains a priority for the American Farm Bureau Federation.  The Senate last year failed to advance the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, legislation put forward by central Washington’s Dan Newhouse and others.  It was a bill, which cleared the House twice, and was thought by many to be the best chance for farm labor reforms in decades.  However, AFBF President Zippy Duvall disagrees.


“It just wasn’t enough, and it didn’t go far enough to provide enough workers for all of agriculture," Duvall noted.  "And we are very concerned about the wage rate formula because we don’t think it’s sustainable. It’s outgrowing the costs of anywhere across the country and we want to make sure that we have time to work on that formula that calculates that wage rate. We have to do better, and we must do better to make sure that it’s sustainable for the farmer and for the workers.”


Sam Kieffer, AFBF Vice President of Public Policy, said there are other issues within farm labor that need addressed.  And Farm Bureau, he noted, will continue to engage with lawmakers.


“We have been actively engaged for the last 18 months specifically with Senators Bennet and Crapo, and we remain committed to working with any legislator in either chamber to find the solutions to work for all of agriculture. President Duvall identified some of the concerns we had with the last-minute agreement in the United States Senate," Kieffer noted.  "Our membership does support E-Verify. However, when E-Verify is hanging over the heads of producers without a sufficient number of visas for the workforce that is already here, that is a concern."


If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-9791, or e-mail 

More From PNW Ag Network