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Virginia bill to make farmworkers eligible for minimum wage killed

The farmworker bill’s chief sponsor, Del. Jeion Ward, argued that the farmworker exemption is rooted in Jim Crow-era discrimination laws.

RICHMOND, Va. — Author's note: the above video is on file from Feb. 04, 2021.

A Virginia Senate committee on Monday killed a measure that would have made Virginia’s minimum wage requirements apply to farmworkers. 

The Committee on Commerce and Labor voted against eliminating current exemptions in the law for farmworkers, ending the bill’s chances of passing this year. 

The bill previously cleared the House of Delegates on a party line 55-45 vote, but met resistance along the way from agribusiness. 

Lobbyists argued that the bill was unnecessary because they said farmworkers are already well-compensated. 

RELATED: Minimum wage is increasing for Virginians, but not farm workers. There's a push to change that.

The farm worker bill’s chief sponsor, Del. Jeion Ward, argued that the farmworker exemption is rooted in Jim Crow-era discrimination laws. 

She said one out of every five farmworkers in Virginia makes less than minimum wage.