Farm groups issued statements late Friday applauding an agreement with United Farm Workers and key senators who had been negotiating over an agricultural guest-worker program.
Dow Jones news service reported late Friday afternoon that under a new visa program, employers would be allowed to hire as many as 112,000 foreign laborers to work in agriculture in the first year after the program is implemented. An additional 112,000 slots would open up in the program's second year, and so on for five years, with the total number capped at 337,000, a member of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, the collection of business groups negotiating the deal, told Dow Jones. After five years, the Department of Agriculture would be responsible for setting an appropriate cap for the program.
Western Growers, which represents major fruit and vegetable farmers in California and Arizona, issued a statement from Tom Nassif, president and CEO of the group, applauding the deal. Nassif has been one of the main negotiators with the farm workers union. Nassif said the framework agreed to would offer a viable solution to ensure farms have access to a legal work force.