Backers of Farmworker Visa Push Immigrant Labor Deal

Lawmakers, agriculture groups and farmworker organizations are pushing to pass an overhaul of the farmworker visa program through both chambers of Congress before the GOP takes control of the House next year.

Immigrant advocacy groups generally support the measure as do many farmers who say they struggle to find enough help to harvest their crops.

“It’s almost impossible to ever get an American citizen to come work on a dairy farm,” said Steve Obert, executive director of Indiana Dairy Producers, a trade group. The work involves manual labor in “conditions some people would say are smelly and dirty,” he said

Time is ticking: If the legislation doesn’t pass this year, GOP leaders aren’t expected to be willing to bring it up once they have a majority in the House.

Currently there is no cap on the number of visas for seasonal agricultural work, but farmworkers are only allowed to remain in the country for up to 10 months.