With Congress set to debate immigration reform, Welch, Owens and Hanna introduce bill to help dairy farmers secure a stable workforce

News Release — Congressman Peter Welch
April 9, 2013

Scott Coriell (202.225.4115)

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (April 9, 2011) – With Congress set to begin debating comprehensive immigration reform as early as this week, Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) today introduced legislation to help ensure a stable workforce for Vermont and New York dairy farmers by granting them access to an important visa program. The congressmen will fight to get their bill – or similar protections – included in any final reform package.

The H-2A visa program allows businesses to hire foreign workers when domestic labor is unavailable. Although other sectors of agriculture currently have access to the H-2A program, dairy farmers do not. That disparity has made it difficult for dairy farmers to secure a stable workforce. The H-2A Improvement Act would expand the H-2A program to allow dairy farmers access to three-year visas that would better accommodate their workforce needs. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has been the leader in the Senate working to reform the H-2A program to help dairy farmers.

“Vermont’s dairy farmers are hanging on by their fingernails,” Welch said. “Every day they struggle with multiple challenges to survival, including high energy costs, unstable milk prices, and a shortage of workers. This legislation will help take one challenge off their plates. With a bipartisan push to overhaul the nation’s immigration system gaining momentum, there is a real opportunity to make progress on this important issue.”

“Dairy farmers play a tremendously important role in job creation and economic development in rural New York, but finding and maintaining an adequate labor supply throughout the year is a consistent challenge for the industry,” Owens said. “This legislation takes steps to improve the system and reduce burdens on dairy farmers so operations across New York will have every opportunity to grow and succeed in today’s economy.”

“Agriculture, and dairy farming in particular, is a major economic driver in upstate New York and the Southern Tier,” Rep. Hanna said. “Our farmers are simply not getting the legal, reliable labor they need out of our current immigration system. Any serious immigration and border security reform should include a bipartisan, commonsense proposal to help keep our dairy farms alive and growing – like the H-2A Improvement Act.”

Various working groups in the House and Senate have been preparing proposals to be unveiled as early as this week.


Press Release

Comment Policy

VTDigger.org requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation. If you have questions or concerns about our commenting platform, please review our Commenting FAQ.

Privacy policy
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "With Congress set to debate immigration reform, Welch, Owens and Hann..."