Boy… this has been a busy week in Washington. Looks like several of these ahead.
On Tuesday, the Senate Ag Committee marked up and then passed their version of the Farm Bill. The bill has left STAX pretty well unscathed through the committee process. This is good news but if debate in the committee is any indication, some damaging amendments could be offered during the floor debate.
Speaking of floor debate, the ink on the Senate Ag Committee version will hardly have time to dry before it gets debated on the floor. It is expected that the bill could be brought up on the floor as early as Monday. Any amendments that are offered will require a 60 vote majority to pass. This is a pretty serious hurdle but not unsurmountable to some. We will need to watch this closely for amendments that could be damaging to STAX.
The House Ag Committee also took up the Farm Bill this week. Their measure passed out of committee on Wednesday night. Again STAX is left pretty well in tact in the House version. As of today, we are not sure of a schedule for floor debate on the House version.
Immigration reform is moving this week in the Senate. The original Gang of 8 version of SB744 has been replaced by a committee substitute. It is largely the same as the original with some technical corrections. There have been over 300 amendments offered on this bill. While a number have been dealt with or withdrawn, there are a number to go. Chairman Leahy is working on it as time allows. The Judiciary Committee not only has immigration but a number of judicial appointees to work through.
There are a handful of amendments that would damage the ag provisions of this bill. Only a couple have been looked at so far. As of now, cotton ginning is still in as eligible for the ag immigration program. This would make our industry eligible for the new program that replaces the H2A program. It should also make the workers that we have in the industry today eligible for any program that provides for their continued residence in the US. Ag workers are on a faster track for legal adjustment than workers in other industries. If it passes in this form, we will likely be contacted by past employees to verify previous employment. Just be prepared.
That’s it for now. Stay Tuned. Next week could be eventful as well