WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) led a letter, also signed by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and U.S. Representatives David Rouzer (R-NC), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Austin Scott (R-GA), and Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting answers on the partnership with United Farm Workers (UFW) of America and the implementation of the department’s program “Invest up to $65 Million in Pilot Program to Strengthen Food Supply Chain, Reduce Irregular Migration, and Improve Working Conditions for Farmworkers.”
“Buried in the last paragraph of the announcement it is stated that USDA will “partner with the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) through a technical assistance cooperative agreement to inform USDA of the challenges faced by agricultural workers and to inform the development of the pilot program.” We have serious concerns about this partnership,” wrote the members.
The members continued, “UFW is an openly partisan advocacy organization that has a long history of actively lobbying for drastic changes in agriculture labor policy at every level of government, including during the Biden Administration. In fact, UFW is currently running an active grassroots campaign “demanding a thorough audit and investigation into the H-2A agriculture guest worker program” calling the program, “modern day slavery.” Furthermore, while UFW claims to be the nation’s largest farmworkers’ union the reality is that UFW’s 5,512 members represent less than one quarter of one percent of the country’s estimated 2.6 million farmworkers. For these reasons, we question UFW’s ability to accurately inform USDA of the challenges faced by farmworkers and provide objective technical assistance to develop the pilot program.”
Read the full letter here.