© 2024 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Farmworker Immigration Bill Passes U.S. House With Support From Idaho Rep. Simpson

Screenshot of March 18 U.S. House of Representatives proceedings on C-SPAN

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization ActThursday, which would provide a path to legal status for farmworkers through agricultural work. Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation. 

The bill has the support of several Idaho agricultural groups, including the Idaho Potato Commission, the Idaho Cattle Association and the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. 

“It’s about providing a stable, legal workforce for the people who put food on our tables,” Simpson said on the House floor. 

The dairy industry would benefit, in particular, from the legislation, which would make a certain number of year-round visas available for dairy workers. Dairy workers are not currently eligible for temporary, seasonal visas because the industry is year-round. 

Simpson was one of 30 Republicans to vote in favor of the bill. Several Republican legislators argued it would provide “amnesty” to undocumented people, but Simpson disagreed, saying it creates a “merit-based” agricultural immigration system. 

The legislation would make it easier for producers to hire workers through the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program. It would also let these workers apply for green cards after 10 years of working in the U.S. 

President Joe Biden expressed support for the legislation on Thursday. 

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was passed by the U.S. House in 2019, but didn’t make it to the Senate before the pandemic hit. Idaho Rep. Russ Fulcher voted in favor of the legislation then, but voted against it this year. 

The House passed another immigration reform bill Thursday — the American Dream and Promise Act -—which would provide a path to citizenship for “DREAMers.” Both Reps. Simpson and Fulcher voted against this bill. 


Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen  

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio


I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.

You make stories like this possible.

The biggest portion of Boise State Public Radio's funding comes from readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

Your donation today helps make our local reporting free for our entire community.