Senate committee passes guest worker measures

On May 15 the Senate Appropriations Committee met and voted on two amendments important to the landscape industry. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Emergency Agriculture Relief Act passed by a vote of 17 to 12, and Senator Barbara Mikulski’s H-2B legislation, a three-year extension of the returning guest worker exemption, passed with a vote of 23-6. This is only the first step in a longer legislative process, but it was an important one for those in the green industry.

Feinstein’s amendment would provide a five-year visa for experienced farm workers, including those in the nursery and greenhouse sector, who meet the conditions and agree to continue working in the agricultural sector. Though it would expire in five years, the amendment would help stabilize the labor crisis until Congress can enact more permanent reforms.

Mikulski’s amendment would provide a three-year extension of the exemption from the H-2B program cap for experienced returning workers.

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