Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

February 27, 2013

Bipartisan agreement on need for more farm workers

WASHINGTON — Republicans and Democrats said Tuesday that farmers should be allowed to hire foreign workers more easily as Congress reworks U.S. immigration laws. But there was some disagreement on how it should happen.

Lawmakers and witnesses at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing said the visa program that lets farmers hire foreign agricultural workers is so unwieldy it accounts for only a very small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of farm workers hired in the U.S. Half or more of agriculture workers are here illegally, experts agree.

These workers play a critical role to the U.S. economy and food supply, harvesting fruits and vegetables around the country. But growers said their productivity and ability to keep operations in the U.S. is threatened by difficulties ensuring a stable labor supply, and that must change. Meanwhile workers said they should get more protections and that farm workers should have the opportunity to obtain citizenship or at least permanent legal status.

“It is a costly, time-consuming and flawed program,” said Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

“If we are honest we must admit that Congress essentially left farmers with no choice but to hire undocumented workers. Let’s not fool ourselves,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.  

The existing program for temporary farmworkers — the H-2A visa — allows workers into the U.S. for 10 months at a time but growers complain that it is extremely bureaucratic and pays artificially inflated wages. Some 55,000 H-2A visas were issued in 2011 compared to over a million workers on fields and farms. Also, dairy farms and meat processing plants, which are increasingly major employers of foreign workers, are not covered by the program.

Lawmakers of both parties said the system is broken and needed to be fixed but disagreements emerged over how to improve it. Goodlatte said there should be a new program to replace the existing one and ensure a “stable, legal agricultural workforce.” But several Democrats said any changes should be made in the context of comprehensive changes to the nation’s immigration laws that would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, including eventual citizenship for farmworkers.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

    Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah agreed Wednesday to form a unity government and hold new elections — a potentially historic step toward mending the rift that has split their people between two sets of rulers for seven years.

    April 24, 2014

  • Obama administration weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release — and expecting thousands to take up the offer.

    April 24, 2014

  • Earns Facebook_Stew.jpg Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

    Facebook’s earnings nearly tripled and revenue grew sharply in the first quarter, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Georgia Gun Bill_Stew.jpg Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

    Criticized by one group as the “guns everywhere” bill, Georgia took a big step Wednesday toward expanding where licensed carriers can take their weapons, with the governor signing a law that allows them in bars without restriction and in some churches, schools and government buildings under certain circumstances.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clemson Spring Game F_Stew.jpg Clemson’s Swinney won’t change after complaint

    Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he wouldn’t change procedures after the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter of complaint expressing concerns about the football program’s connection to the coach’s Christian religion.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1800, Congress approved a bill establishing the Library of Congress.

    April 24, 2014

  • Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • ‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in South Sudan slaughter

    Gunmen who targeted both children and the elderly left “piles and piles” of bodies — many of those in a mosque — in a provincial capital in South Sudan, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in the country said Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results