Senate Committee Passes Guest Worker Measures

The Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to add the Emergency Agriculture Relief Act (EARA) to the 2008 emergency supplemental spending bill, providing a temporary solution to stabilize the experienced agricultural workforce and overhauling the H-2A temporary farm work program.

EARA is offered as an amendment to the Iraq supplemental spending bill. If enacted, it would grant temporary, limited immigration status for experienced farm workers who would be required to continue to work in U.S. agriculture–including the nursery and greenhouse sector–for the next five years.

This emergency measure would sunset after five years unless Congress acts to make the reforms permanent, either through comprehensive immigration reform or passage of a narrower bill like AgJOBS. The temporary legal status of workers would end along with the H-2A reforms, and revert to the current program now in place.

“Hopefully, congressional leadership will now stop ignoring the voices of America’s small businesses and family farms, and bring these measures to the floor in both chambers for a fair vote,” says Corey Connors, ANLA director of legislative relations.

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