Rep. Goodlatte Proposes Agricultural Guestworker Act

Rep. Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which has oversight on immigration policy, plans to introduce his Agricultural Guestworker Act in the near future in an effort to codify regulations concerning agriculture's use of immigrant labor.

"The AG Act replaces the H-2A program with a more efficient and flexible guestworker program - known as H-2C - that is designed to meet the needs of the diverse agriculture industry," Rep. Goodlatte wrote in a guest editorial for Farm Policy Facts this week. "The H-2C program will be administered by the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an agency that clearly understands the unique needs of America's farm and ranch operations and the importance of getting perishable agricultural commodities to market in an efficient manner.

"The AG Act will allow experienced unauthorized agricultural workers to continue working in agriculture by joining the H-2C guestworker program so that they can participate legally in the agricultural workforce."

The H-2A Sheepherder Committee of the American Sheep Industry Association - which also includes shearers and representatives from Mountain Plains Agriculture Service and the Western Range Association - met in Denver in August to discuss industry priorities that might be included in the upcoming bill.

"ASI has forwarded the key provisions and critical questions to the committee concerning the sheepherder and shearer programs the sheep industry uses today. Understanding how future legislation and rulemaking would cover key issues such as mobile housing and monthly wage is paramount to the work of our committee," said ASI President Mike Corn of New Mexico. "We are being progressive in addressing the future legislation rather than reactionary. We plan to have our formal review and requests available for the sheep industry to work with late this month."

Read the full Goodlatte editorial at: