Harris on ag issues: Strong on farmworker protections, against the USMCA

During her three-and-a-half years in the Senate, California’s Kamala Harris, named Tuesday as the running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, has been active on a number of farm and agricultural issues, including creating a path to citizenship for farmworkers. She has also been an advocate of aggressive action on climate change.

Harris was elected in 2016 to succeed long-serving Sen. Barbara Boxer. In the Senate, she has worked on several pieces of legislation affecting farmworkers. In 2017, she co-sponsored the Agricultural Worker Program Act, which sought to “shield farmworkers from deportation and put them on a path to earned legal status and eventual citizenship.” In 2019, she reintroduced the Fairness for Farm Workers Act, which would have extended overtime protections to farmworkers.

Harris has been applauded by climate groups for her strong stance on that issue. In early 2020, she voted against the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was backed by conventional agriculture groups, citing concerns about the trade pact’s lack of environmental protections. She is also an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal.

During her unsuccessful presidential campaign, Harris’s rural platform took a progressive approach on a number of farm issues, including ending RFS waivers for oil refiners, implementing the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, and establishing a commission to support heirs’ property owners. She also emphasized the importance of Medicare for All and expanded broadband access to the health and economic well-being of rural communities.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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