The Irrigation Association’s (IA’s) government affairs team has been working to bring a strong voice to legislative and regulatory discussions that represent the positions of its members and stakeholders. Recently, government affairs staff members had the opportunity to participate in two new areas of advocacy affecting the industry.
IA participates in H-2B coalition
On Nov. 13, the IA joined leaders of the national H-2B Workforce Coalition for an advocacy day in Washington, D.C. The allied associations and coalition urged members of Congress to support language in the upcoming appropriations bills that would provide cap relief to seasonal businesses that rely on H-2B workers to fill critical labor needs. Currently, the H-2B cap is 66,000 visas, spread across all industries that use seasonal guest workers.
More than 100 business owners and industry representatives came together for the event and trekked to meetings in Senate and House offices across Capitol Hill. Members of the coalition relayed a consistent message: 1) The current visa cap falls far short of true labor needs, and 2) without these workers businesses must turn away work, lay off American workers and, in the worst cases, shut down their operations entirely.
Participants relayed how the uncertainty around whether they would receive their requested visas had up- and downstream effects on suppliers, manufacturers, landscapers and many other businesses in the supply chain. Many of the participants were veterans of H-2B advocacy, having walked these halls many times before to bring a similar message: A short-term fix is vitally needed now, but a long-term solution must be achieved soon.
The Irrigation Association continues to push for a permanent fix to the H-2B visa cap. We urge IA members to contact their members of Congress and ask for their support for temporary relief language in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill.
IA & NGWA join forces
The Irrigation Association has had a long-time industry partnership with the National Ground Water Association. The Irrigation Show and Education Week has co-located with NGWA’s Groundwater Week many times in the past, including the 2019 Irrigation Show in Las Vegas.
Recently, both associations announced a new level of partnership involving advocacy and government affairs efforts.
The IA and NGWA have entered into a partnership agreement to have John Farner, IA government and public affairs director, represent NGWA in Washington, D.C., as the NGWA’s federal affairs director. Farner has over 25 years of public policy and legislative experience and has worked closely with the NGWA government affairs team in the past on a number of joint issues, including the joint Washington, D.C., fly-in. This annual event is planned for 2020 and will be held March 3-4 in conjunction with the 2020 Water Resources Congressional Summit, which is co-hosted by the IA, NGWA and the Water Quality Association. Registration is now open.
“I’m excited about what this means for the IA, elevating us even more as a national resource on all water issues,” said Farner, who will also continue in his current role as the IA’s government and public affairs director. “This partnership will lead to opportunities for both the IA and NGWA to be positioned as experts in the management of one our nation’s most valuable natural resources, water.”