Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House of Representatives

Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of Farm Workforce Modernization Act

December 11, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which passed on a 260 – 165 vote.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Madam – thank you very much, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.  I commend her for her tremendous leadership on this important legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. 

I join with Mr. LaMalfa, my friend, my Italian-American colleague from California, in his strong remarks for this bill.  It is bipartisan, and it is important for us to pass it.  So, I proudly join all of our colleagues and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill, a historic victory for farm workers and for growers, which ensures that America can continue to feed the world.

I salute, again, to Chair Zoe Lofgren for her months of tough, relentless leadership, without much – without which we would not ­– this bill would not be possible.  And I also want to commend the leadership of the United Farm Workers.  They – Arturo Rodriguez has been working on this bill for almost a generation, for 17 years.  He and Teresa Romero have sent a statement of support for this legislation, which very clearly points out the need and the answer that this bill is about, and I would like, without objection, to submit the United Farm Workers' statement of support for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act for the record. 

Speaker Pro Tempore.  Without objection, so ordered. 

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Madam Speaker. 

So many Members brought their vision, their voices, their values to this process.  Thanks to all of you for strengthening the bill we have on the Floor today, and we thank our friends, the groups, for doing the outside organizing that makes the inside maneuvering successful. 

We have all been inspired by the immortal words of beloved Dolores Huerta: ‘Si se puede!’  

This legislation honors workers’ dignity and supports the farm economy with strong, smart reforms.  The bill provides a path to legalization, as Mr. LaMalfa referenced, for currently undocumented farm workers.  No one that feeds our country should be condemned to permanent second-class status.

The bill secures the agricultural workforce of the future by updating, expanding and strengthening the H-2A initiative to ensure farms have stable, secure workforces. 

And critically, it demands fair, humane treatment for farm workers, following the lead of legislation in California by securing fairness in pay, improving access to quality housing and ensuring robust safety and heat illness protections. 

Many in this chamber – particularly, I know firsthand from California – helped lead the fight for farm workers for decades.  This fight is not only about ensuring fair wages and fair treatment, but about honoring the spark of divinity within each person, which makes us all worthy of dignity and respect. 

This bill honors the two million farm workers who are the backbone of our economy and country, powering our farm economy and producing the food on our tables, even as they persevere through harsh working conditions and low wages. 

As the United Catholic Conference – as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote last month in support of this bill, and I quote, ‘The dignity of work of farm workers and their families is a central concern.  Farm workers produce the food that we eat and contribute to the care of our community.’  

This legislation is a critical step forward for workers, for growers and for the farm economy, but our work is not done. 

Led by Chair Zoe Lofgren and Members from every corner of the country, we’ll continue to work to stabilize the farm economy, protect workers and their families and maintain America's proud agricultural preeminence in the world, and as we do so, we remember the words of late Cesar Chavez.  He said this, ‘To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream.  The second is persistence.’

Thank you, Madam Chair, for your persistence.  Thank you, Arturo, for yours. 

I'm pleased at the bipartisanship of this bill, thank our Members for their persistence on this legislation, for which I urge a strong bipartisan vote and thank you, Mr. – for your leadership on this as well. 

Thank you so much.