House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte today introduced the Agricultural Guestworker "AG" Act (H.R. 1773) a bill to provide American farmers with a workable temporary agricultural guestworker program that will help provide access to a reliable workforce. Chairman Goodlatte released the following statement on the bill's introduction:
"Today's introduction of the AG Act is one piece that brings us closer to solving the immigration puzzle. While it is important that we reform our immigration system as a whole, we must look at each of the individual issues within the larger system to ensure that we get immigration reform right. If we fail to examine each issue methodically, we risk making the same mistakes of the past that have created the problems we face today.
"One component that needs fixing is our temporary agricultural guestworker program, which American farmers avoid using altogether since it exposes them to frivolous litigation and burdens them with excessive regulations. The new guestworker program created under the AG Act remedies this problem by removing red tape, streamlining access to a reliable workforce, and protecting farmers from abusive lawsuits. It also allows more participation in the guestworker program by opening it up to dairies and food processors, both of which often need access to foreign labor. In addition, the AG Act is good for those seeking a better life for their families by providing opportunities to earn a living while temporarily working in agricultural jobs U.S. citizens are not willing to do.
"By putting farmers in the driver's seat rather than Washington bureaucrats, they will be better equipped to compete in the global economy and continue growing our crops. It is vital that American farmers have access to a workable guestworker program now so that they can continue putting food on Americans' tables. We have to get this right so that farmers aren't burdened with another failed guestworker program for decades to come."
Original cosponsors of the AG Act include Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), George Holding (R-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).