House Judiciary Committee unveils bill to create new agricultural guestworker program

The following is a press release from the House Judiciary Committee about the new agricultural guestworker program bill that is being introduced this week. WineAmerica is a member of two immigration reform coalitions and we are in the process of analyzing the bill. If you have any questions please contact WineAmerica Vice President Michael Kaiser at

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today unveiled a bill to create a new, workable agricultural guestworker program for America’s farmers and ranchers.The Agricultural Guestworker Act, or the AG Act, replaces the outdated and broken H-2A guestworker program with a reliable, efficient, and fair program and will be marked up by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, October 4, 2017. The H-2A program is widely known to be expensive, time-consuming, and flawed. Each year, employers using the H-2A program have to comply with a lengthy labor certification process that is slow and plagued with red tape. As a result of complying with H-2A regulations, employers using the program almost always find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace.To provide American farmers with access to a legal, stable supply of workers, the AG Actcreates a new H-2C guestworker program designed to meet the needs of the diverse agriculture industry. Under the bill, the guestworker program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and covers year-round employers, like dairies, aquaculture operations, food processors, and others. Further, the AG Act allows experienced unauthorized agricultural workers to continue working in agriculture and provides more flexibility to American farmers with respect to housing, transportation, and touchback periods. For a full summary of the AG Act, click here and for bill text click here.Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the following on the AG Act:

“For far too long, the broken H-2A guestworker program has buried American farmers in red tape and excessive costs without delivering access to a stable and reliable workforce. It’s clear that the current program is outdated and broken for American farmers, and it’s well past the time to replace it with a reliable, efficient, and fair program that provides American farmers access to a legal, stable supply of workers, both in the short- and long-term, for seasonal as well as year-round work.
“The AG Act replaces the flawed H-2A program with a new, flexible, and market-driven guestworker program that is designed to meet the needs of the diverse agriculture industry when not enough American workers can be found. The new program is to be operated by the USDA, an agency that clearly understands the unique needs of America’s farm and ranch operations and the importance of getting perishable agricultural commodities to the marketplace in an efficient manner, and expands the guestworker program to year-round agricultural employers. I thank the agriculture community for the input they provided on this legislation and look forward to bringing it up in the House Judiciary Committee this week.”