SACRAMENTO, June 26, 2018 – The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) today sent an action alert to its grower members urging them to contact members of the California congressional delegation and request a yes vote in favor of agricultural guestworker legislation.
The House of Representatives is set to vote tomorrow on H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has signaled his desire to offer an amendment, known as the Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act), to H.R. 6136. If enacted into law, the AG Act, would create a new H-2C agricultural guestworker program.
The AG Act would allow current unauthorized immigrant farmworkers to convert to lawful status as an H-2C guestworker. With guestworker status, these experienced workers would be protected from the disruption and heartache that could occur if caught and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The AG Act would also provide for an adequate future flow of ag guestworkers for California winegrape growers.
CAWG Board Chair Bill Berryhill said, “The AG Act represents our best opportunity in many years to address the most pressing challenge confronting growers today – the inability to access a willing, legal workforce necessary to produce and harvest winegrapes. I’m urging my fellow growers to contact their California representative in Washington, D.C. to push for a yes vote on Goodlatte’s AG Act amendment.”
CAWG, the American Farm Bureau Federation and over 200 other agricultural groups have urged the House of Representatives to vote in favor of the AG Act.
CAWG President John Aguirre said, “For too long, too many groups in Washington, D.C. have rejected opportunities for compromise in pursuit of perfection. The AG Act isn’t perfect, but continued argument and delay in search of the perfect solution won’t deliver the workers we need for California’s vineyards. We need our California congressional delegation to vote in favor of Chairman Goodlatte’s AG Act amendment.”
*UPDATE* CAWG learned late today that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s AG Act amendment will not be offered for consideration during Wednesday’s vote on H.R. 6136. Earlier in the day, Goodlatte’s amendment was posted on the House Rules Committee website, but House Republican leaders determined that the amendment would not attract additional votes for H.R. 6136 and stripped the amendment from a package of amendments that will be offered on the House floor.
“We at CAWG are deeply disappointed the House of Representatives has once again chosen to ignore the labor crisis that threatens the viability of California’s vineyards. California agriculture needs an effective and reliable agricultural guestworker program and Goodlatte’s AG Act would have delivered precisely that,” said CAWG President John Aguirre.
CAWG provides industry leadership to advocate for public policies, research and education programs, and sustainable farming practices to enhance the business of growing California winegrapes. The organization represents the growers of more than 50 percent of the gross grape tonnage crushed for wine and concentrate in California.