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Newhouse Amendment Addressing Farm Labor Housing Shortage Included in FY 2018 House Agriculture Appropriations Bill

July 12, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee marked up the agriculture appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. The legislation passed by the committee includes priorities championed by Rep. Newhouse including funding for hops research, directions for the Food and Drug Administration to conduct a study on the distinction between grape varietals rarely consumed raw, and provides funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs.

“I am pleased to join my colleagues in advancing this legislation that makes progress on priorities for our farmers and rural America,” stated Rep. Newhouse. “I appreciated working with the Committee to include priorities for Washington agriculture to reduce regulatory red tape, advance research and support programs that help us export our commodities to the global consumer.”

Additionally, Rep. Newhouse’s amendment to alleviate the shortage of farm labor housing by ensuring that legal H-2A workers are eligible to use housing provided by Section 514 was adopted unanimously:

“In communities like Central Washington, we see the success of the Section 514 loans that are provided to buy, build, improve, and repair housing for farm laborers,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Despite the investment we have provided to ensure housing for workers, those legally-admitted temporary laborers, such as H-2A workers, remain ineligible to use this housing. H-2A employment has doubled in the past four years and will likely continue to grow in coming years. Section 514 loans should reflect that reality and not exclude these workers from using housing intended for farm laborers. As we have witnessed a decrease in domestic workers seeking jobs in agriculture, we have seen an increase in H-2A workers, thus creating Section 514 housing that is going underutilized. I am pleased that my amendment was included in the legislation marked up today.”

Click here to watch debate on Rep. Newhouse’s amendment.

Background:

Newhouse Farm Labor Housing Amendment: Section 514 loans are provided to buy, build, improve, and repair housing for farm laborers. Currently, those legally admitted temporary laborers, such as H-2A workers (agriculture guest workers), remain ineligible to use this housing. Rep. Newhouse’s amendment would allow section 514 housing to be used for both domestic and H-2A workers in situations where housing units are currently unoccupied or underutilized.   

Hops Research: The bill provides for $1,000,000 in hops research. This is a first step enhancement reinstating the existing program to 2.0 Full Time Employees to allow two full-time scientists and retains pass-through funding to Washington State University. Last year, Rep. Newhouse led colleagues on a request to increase hops research.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Grape Varietal: Report language directs the FDA to conduct a study on the distinction between grape varietals rarely consumed raw, reducing regulatory burdens for our wine grape growers.

Market Access Program (MAP) - Foreign Market Development (FMD): The bill contains language continuing the mandatory funding of the MAP program and rejecting the President’s proposed cut.