FYI: News Briefs 1908

“Security for agriculture merits serious concern by not only the agricultural community but our nation as a whole. The risk to the U.S. food supply and overall economy is real.”— Pat Roberts
NCAE News, Legal/Technical & Other Employer IssuesShould the state allow farmworkers to unionize, even if it could mean halting food production?
A Washington Supreme Court ruling on piece-rate pay last spring unleashed an avalanche of lawsuits against most of the state’s tree fruit companies.
Regulatory ActionsFarmworkers were found living in “dilapidated, trash-strewn housing” in Silverton, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
After a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation, Sundance Natural Foods Company – based in Oceanside, California – will pay $13,641 in back wages to 45 employees for unpaid overtime as a result of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act (MSPA).
Legislative ActionsFor at least three years, Washington farmers won’t pay new state fees to hire foreign farmworkers, but could be charged as much as $75 per H-2A worker beginning in 2022, under a plan endorsed Thursday by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee in a bipartisan vote.
Businesses in Iowa could face the suspension or loss of their licenses if they knowingly employ workers who are in the country illegally, under a bill sponsored by more than half of the Iowa Senate.
H-2 and Other Worker Status IssuesFor decades, U.S. farmers, landscapers and builders tapped a seemingly endless supply of cheap labor: the waves of undocumented immigrants coming across the southern border.
Immigration ReformGilroy, Calif., is known as the garlic capital of the world.
A new Democratic bill that would give legal status to illegal immigrant farmworkers may have a better chance of passing Congress and being signed by President Donald Trump than people might think, a Pasco immigration attorney says.
NCAE This WeekAlthough the Congress has been out this week, it’s still been another busy one for NCAE. 
On Tuesday, following the President’s Day holiday, we participated in 2 webinars, met with a vendor regarding a website redo and also had great turnout on our H-2A call. We asked participants to provide us with estimates of hourly rate costs for H-2A housing. We also informed members of a survey to watch for regarding H-2A, coming from us and directed by a professor from Montana State University. 
Wednesday it snowed and the federal government shutdown many of its functions. However, although some of our Hill meetings have to be rescheduled, the Ag Workforce Coalition team participated in a meeting in the Secretary’s office regarding ag labor that was very fruitful. 
Thursday was spent on the Hill following up on member visits from the NCAE Annual Meeting and answering staff questions regarding priorities for ag labor reform in the 116th Congress.   
Friday included several more Hill visits and getting prepared for presentations next week. 
Stay warm! 
Until next week, Michael

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