& Agricultural Labor Supply
America’s wine industry supports affordable, reliable, and secure agricultural labor to achieve the quality expectations of winemakers and consumers. renewed focus on immigration reform provides a great opportunity for the agricultural industry as whole to improve and build a successful immigrant labor program.
Many growing operations depend on the availability of foreign migrant workers, but the current visa program for agricultural workers does not adequately respond to the shortage in the labor supply. the current H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers program, the wine industry does not have the stable workforce necessary to make these key business decisions: only 2% of wine grape growers and winery operators are able to use that program.
It is generally accepted that the agricultural sector is unique:
- Work is mostly based in rural settings
- Work is seasonally active
- Employees are highly mobile
- Products are perishable
More than 2 million workers contribute time as farm workers. immigration reform must address our current workforce and create a new guest worker program to meet future needs. Agriculture supports millions of jobs both on and off the farm.
The last action on this critical issue was in the House in 2015 when the Judiciary Committee approved the Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 1147. This bill, sponsored by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), would require U.S. employers to check the work eligibility of all new hires through the E-Verify system. agricultural employers agree with the need to strengthen worker documentation, taking these steps before addressing the current workforce gap and the need for a workable guest worker program falls short of the goal to provide a stable and secure agricultural workforce. enforcement is just one aspect of reform – the wine grape industry is eager for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a stable and secure workforce. are careful to follow the federal government’s requirements for checking employment documents, and will continue to do so.
Winegrape Growers of America and WineAmerica look forward to working with Congress and the new Administration to support comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the need for a workable program for agricultural workers. oppose efforts to implement mandatory E-Verify before Congress addresses comprehensive immigration reform.