Legislative News

For your member-exclusive AmericanHort updates click here, and your weekly legislative summary is here.

DOT Enforcement Push Coming in Early May

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, an organization comprised of local, state, and federal motor vehicle safety officials, will be conducting their annual readiness check on May 4-6. Officials will be performing roadside inspections with the main focus on two things – lighting and hours-of-service violations. Read More

NALP Expands Government Relations Team

The National Association of Landscape Professionals, Fairfax, Virginia, is expanding its government relations team with the addition of Karla Segundo in the newly created position of manager of government relations. Segundo has experience working in congressional offices, political campaigns and NALP’s lobbying firm, DCLRS, where she worked on H-2B, pesticides, fertilizers and other environmental...Read More

AmericanHort Commends House Passage of Agricultural Workforce Bill

Shared via press release, AmericanHort applauds the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 (H.R. 1603), in the House of Representatives on March 18. The bill passed by a vote of 247-174, earning significant bipartisan support in a contentious political environment. “The advancement of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the necessary first step in addressing the horticulture...Read More

AmericanHort Welcomes Farm Workforce Modernization Act

AmericanHort enthusiastically welcomes today’s reintroduction in the House of Representatives of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This historic legislation, first negotiated in 2019, passed in the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support that year. Workforce challenges are the single-biggest constraint on the stability, success, and growth potential of nursery and greenhouse growers across the U.S. Rural areas across the country benefit...Read More

New H-2A Wage Rates Effective Immediately

As directed by the courts, USDA has published the new Farm Labor Survey from which the “Adverse Effect Wage Rates” (AEWRs) are derived. On Tuesday, February 23, the Department of Labor published those wages in the Federal Register. The new wages take effect immediately. Every state sees an increase this year. The Delta region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi) sees the smallest one, just $0.05, for an $11.88 AEWR. California takes the biggest hit, with a $1.28 increase, to $16.05. The national average increase is $0.63, to $14.62. The nation’s highest AEWR is in Washington and Oregon, at $16.34. The court has not yet determined whether to require back pay at the beginning of the year or even at December 23, the date the court enjoined the rule.  Federal legislative reform is again the only realistic route to addressing the extremely high-cost structure of the H-2A program. 

Biden Announces Changes to Small Business Relief Programs

On Monday, President Joe Biden announced several changes to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The administration will institute a 14-day period, starting Feb. 24, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief through the program. According to a White House statement, the 14-day exclusive application period is designed...Read More

Insights Into How a New Congress and Administration Will Affect Horticulture

With a new Congress and new Presidential administration in 2021, the legislative landscape has changed significantly since last year. What does it mean for horticulture and critical issues facing the industry? What can business owners do at the grassroots level to advance these key issues and defend the industry? Read More

Pesticide Policy Debates

As we prepare to turn the page on the 116th Congress and welcome in the 117th Congress in January, a shot across the bow of the green industry was made this summer. In August, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) in the House introduced the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020 (H.R. 7940, S. 4406) which undermines 70 years of regulatory...Read More 

DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This temporary guidance was set to expire Nov. 19. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended this policy until December 31, 2020. Read More

USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for First Half of FY 2021

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced via press release it has reached its H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year 2021. Read the announcement, below: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap on H-2B visas for temporary nonagricultural workers for the first half of fiscal year 2021. Read More

AmericanHort Commends Ruling That Horticulture is an Agricultural Commodity

AmericanHort released the following statement after the Department of Transportation issued an Interim Final Rule announcing that horticulture is specifically included in the definition of agricultural commodity as it pertains to transportation: “We are very pleased with the clarification of the agricultural commodity definition,” said Tal Coley, Director of Government Affairs. “Plants are highly perishable products...Read More

FMCSA Clarifies Terms for Ag Haulers, Farmers

In an effort to help farmers — and the truckers who haul their products — the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an interim final rule clarifying some definitions associated with agricultural goods. The interim final rule, released Nov. 19, clarifies the terms “any agricultural commodity,” “non-processed food” and “livestock,” each of which is included in the definition of “agricultural commodity.” Agricultural...Read More

The Latest in Ag Labor: H-2A Gets Easier, Lawsuit Over H-2B

AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge is, perhaps more than anyone else in the horticulture industry, on top of what’s happening in ag labor laws and regulations. In AmericanHort’s most recent Impact Washington Newsletter, Regelbrugge provided the following updates: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced new features on USDA’s website designed to help facilitate the employment of H-2A workers. Read More

Trump Suspends New H-2B Visas

President Trump signed an executive order to suspend the issue of new H-2B visas, along with other temporary worker visas, through the end of 2020, according to an article from The Hill. The order also applies to H-1B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and some J-1 visas. The move is a follow-up to signing a more narrow measure in April, according to officials in the article. The restrictions will remain in place for the rest...Read More

Trucking Hours of Service Changes Finalized

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule last week providing flexibility measures for Hours of Service (HOS) rules.FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said the final rule's changes were based on the thousands of submitted public comments. FMCSA’s final rule offers four key revisions to the existing HOS rules...Read More

As Borders Close, Questions Remain About H-2A Program

President Donald Trump announced Friday that the U.S. would temporarily close its border with Canada and Mexico in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. These restrictions began Saturday at midnight and will last “as long as they need [to last] to protect the American people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Friday press conference. Pompeo addressed the specifics...Read More

Key Ornamental Stakeholders Discuss Energizing the Industry at AIPH Spring Meeting

On March 3, the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) brought together key industry players to Miami, Florida, for a conference entitled ‘Growing the Industry.’ The event, coordinated by the association as part of its Spring Meeting, was held to exchange knowledge and facilitate discussion on understanding the U.S. market and how it is developing. A recording of this horticultural conference...Read More

Learn How AmericanHort is Fighting for You on Transportation Issues

The trucking sector has undergone several regulatory changes over the past few years. Unfortunately, these changes have made shipping green products slightly more complicated. Fortunately, AmericanHort has been on the forefront of this fight, working to make the regulatory environment clearer and easier to navigate for the horticulture industry. Trucking in the U.S. is regulated...Read More

Congress Must Take Action to Address the Structural Limits in the H-2B Program

AmericanHort issued the following statement as the Department of Homeland Security announced the release of 35,000 supplemental H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2020, but with additional conditions and limitations that may undermine the benefit of the visas. “Each year, employers face untenable uncertainty as the statutory annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas is quickly exhausted, leaving them without...Read More

USDA Pest Research Funding Stands to Benefit Horticulture: Here’s How

SDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continues to focus on giving growers the right tools for pest detection and surveillance, identification, and threat mitigation. Earlier this month, APHIS announced it is allocating almost $70 million to support 386 projects under the Plant Pest and Disease Mitigation and Disaster Prevention Program. Read More

EPA Determines no Human Health Harm in Glyphosates

EPA has concluded its regulatory review of glyphosate – the most widely used herbicide in the United States – and determined that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen. These findings on human health risk are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies...Read More

H-2B Cap Reached for Second Half of FY2020

According to an announcement, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of fiscal year 2020. Feb. 18 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before Oct. 1. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Feb. 18 that request...Read More

Active Advocacy for Ag: Why It’s Really up to You

Poorly structured government regulations often bar the way to industry growth and innovation. Their far-reaching, unplanned consequences can agitate the marketplace and unload needless obligations on companies’ already sagging backs, often making a situation worse, not better. We’ve seen it in the controlled-environment industry. Now, what are we going to do about it? It’s no secret the controlled-environment...Read More

Statement Regarding Bayer Monsanto Glyphosate; Ongoing Litigation and EPA Review

As the representative of the landscape industry, the National Association of Landscape Professional (NALP) is committed to educating the landscape workforce, customers and the general public about the safe use of lawn and landscape products. It is possible that you may have questions or will receive questions from your employees, customers, the general public or the media regarding this recent jury...Read More

H-2B Efforts Turn Toward Homeland Security Acting Secretary

Last December, Congress approved an additional 65,000 H-2B visas above the statutory limit of 66,000, subject, however, to the approval of the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. H-2B advocates are now turning their efforts to convince acting secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to release the full complement of visas authorized by Congress. Read More

EPA Issues Review of Glyphosate

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an interim decision and supporting documents for glyphosate. Included in the interim decision is the agency’s findings on human health risks. “The EPA thoroughly assessed risks to humans from exposure to glyphosate from all registered uses and all routes of exposure and did not identify any risks of concern,” the review says. “The agency also concluded...Read More

New I-9 Form Released

On Jan. 31, the USCIS published the Form I-9 Federal Register notice announcing a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, that the Office of Management and Budget approved on Oct. 21, 2019. This new version contains minor changes to the form and its instructions. Employers should begin using this updated form as of Jan. 31. The notice provides employers additional time...Read More

Important EPA Decisions Coming 

The EPA this year will deliver important decisions to U.S. agriculture, including on chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, the neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, atrazine and over-the-top dicamba. Rick Keigwin is the director of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs. He spoke about the decisions and the agency's process for making them Jan. 10 at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference in Savannah. Read More

Secretary Perdue Statement on EPA WOTUS Rule

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule: “President Trump is restoring the rule of law and empowering Americans by removing undue burdens and strangling regulations from the backs of our productive farmers, ranchers, and rural land-owners. Read More

What you Need to Know About the 2020 Overtime Ruling

On September 24, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, that will increase the minimum salary requirement to be considered exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). “Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the minimum salary requirement for the administrative, professional (including the salaried computer professional) and executive...Read More

The Society of American Florists Welcomes New Trade Deal Between the U.S., Canada and Mexico

According to an announcement from the Society of American Florists (SAF), the U.S., Canada and Mexico have completed a trade deal that will replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Per the article, the new deal includes SAF-backed stipulations pertaining to scientific and phytosanitary (SPS) standards the SAF requires. Read More

First Hurdle Cleared for Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Earlier this week , the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, with bipartisan support. This is promising news for those in the ag industry, constantly fighting labor issues. “For too long, the fresh produce industry has suffered under a system that fails to meet the labor needs of our industry,” said United Fresh...Read More

Farm Workforce Bill Offers Historic Opportunity

In the face of the partisan gridlock gripping our nation’s capital, we are on the cusp of a historic opportunity to make legislative progress on one of the toughest policy issues of our time. We’re referring to a House bill known as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, now scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Modernizing our immigration system...Read More

New Rule Aims to Modernize H-2B Process

The Department of Homeland Security along with the Department of Labor, has released a rule to modernize the H-2B filing process. Beginning Dec. 16, the new rule no longer requires employers to run a print ad in a newspaper for temporary or seasonal workers. Along with the rule, DOL will take over the recruiting efforts by posting the job ads on the website. Read More

House Judiciary Committee Passes Farm Workforce Modernization Act

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bill, introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04) and others from both parties, would, among other things, provide pathways to legal status for experienced and contributing agricultural workers, with strong incentives to continue working in agriculture; streamline the H-2A program...Read More

Advocacy Submits Comments On FMCSA’s Proposed Hours Of Service Of Drivers Amendments Rule

On August 22, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) published a proposed rule on Proposed Hours of Service of Drivers Amendments Rule. The proposed rule would provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to the Hours of Service (HOS) rules without, according to FMSCA, affecting safety.  The proposed rule would make five specific changes to the current...Read More

EPA Proposes WPS Application Exclusion Zone Updates

Per an announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA proposed narrow updates to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulation to improve the long-term success of the agency’s Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) provisions. Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, EPA will accept public comments on the proposed revisions for 90 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0543. Read More

AmericanHort welcomes Farm Workforce Modernization Act

On Oct. 30, AmericanHort Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge released the following statement upon House introduction of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. "AmericanHort congratulates our House champions on today’s introduction. This bipartisan compromise advances an important debate and provides a platform for serious consideration of urgently needed reforms addressing the agricultural sector...Read More