Congresswoman Elaine Luria Votes for Bipartisan Bill to Address Agricultural Labor Shortages

December 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) announced the House’s passage of H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019. This bipartisan bill will help Coastal Virginia’s agricultural industry by implementing reforms that aim to address scarcities in labor.  

“Farmers and growers throughout our Eastern Shore community have shared with me the need for access to a reliable workforce,” Congresswoman Luria said. “That is why I supported this measure to make it easier for agricultural employers to hire and retain workers and grow our regional economy.”

H.R. 5038 would address scarcities in the labor market by reforming the H-2A visa program and by creating a Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) status. It will modernize the H-2A visa program by creating a single, online platform for completing and processing H-2A visa applications. This would allow employers to file a single petition for all H-2A visa applications, making the program more responsive and easier to use for employers. The CAW status under H.R. 5038 would create a pathway for certain agricultural workers to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would prevent agricultural businesses from hiring ineligible workers by phasing in a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for agricultural employers to verify the status of each worker. The bill would give smaller farms more time to implement this system to prevent excessive administrative burdens.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.