May 15, 2009
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) on Thursday reintroduced the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security (AgJOBS) Act. AgJOBS is a bipartisan, compromise bill that is the result of years of negotiations among farm workers, growers and members of Congress.
"The nation's lamb- and wool-producing farm and ranch families strongly support the legislation to codify several sheepherder provisions of the H-2A program that have worked successfully for our industry for more than 60 years," stated Peter Orwick, executive director for the American Sheep Industry Association
The legislation has two parts: an earned legalization program for unauthorized farm workers who meet certain eligibility requirements and a revision of the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program. Numerous organizations believe that the bill is necessary to create a stable agricultural workforce, improve the lives of farm workers and give employers access to the workers they need.
Sixteen senators signed on as co-sponsors: Chuck Schumer (N.Y.); Jeff Bingaman (N.M.); Barbara Boxer (Calif.); Maria Cantwell (Wash.); Robert Casey (Pa.); Chris Dodd (Conn.); Russ Feingold (Wis.); Ted Kauffman (Del.); Edward Kennedy (Mass.); John Kerry (Mass.); Herb Kohl (Wis.); Patrick Leahy (Vt.); Carl Levin (Mich.); Joe Lieberman (Conn.); Patty Murray (Wash.); and Bill Nelson (Fla.)
"I urge sheep producers to contact their congressional delegations to request their support by co-sponsoring this important legislation," concluded Orwick.
Reps. Howard Berman (Calif.) and Adam Putnam (Fla.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.