Congressional Democrats introduced a sweeping immigration bill backed by President Joe Biden that would require farms to start paying overtime and provide an expedited path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers.
Farm earnings are broadly expected to ease this year, although USDA's latest farm income forecast projects skyrocketing prices for key commodities will help offset a steep drop in government payments and increases in production costs.
President Joe Biden’s proposal to provide a path to legal status for illegal immigrants offers farm groups a new chance to persuade Congress to expand the availability of guest workers for agriculture, but winning critical Republican support for a major immigration bill could be harder than ever in the post-Trump era.
California agricultural employers are continuing to adapt to the increasing minimum wage and the rollout of new overtime pay requirements, sometimes by moving away from manual labor to mechanized solutions. The rest of the country is watching closely to see whether these farm labor trends expand.
Farm groups that have been appealing to the federal government for years to address a labor shortage could finally see some action from the next Congress should Democrats win control of the government, but any expansion of access to foreign labor will likely come with strings attached.