Brindisi And Joyce Work Together To Expand H2-A Visa Program To Include Dairy Workers
Congressman Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) and Congressman John Joyce (PA-13) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help Upstate New York dairy farmers hire the workforce they need to run their farms and dairy operations efficiently.
The Dairy and Sheep H-2A Visa Enhancement Act would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow foreign dairy workers and sheepherders to use the H-2A visas program and enter the United States for an initial period of three years with an additional three-year extension period. Dairy workers do not currently qualify for H-2A visas, a program that helps many New York producers keep their farms open.
“I’ve heard from dairy farmers across Upstate New York that they need more skilled, qualified workers to help run their operations and get products on shelves,” said Congressman Brindisi. “Dairy farmers are a critical part of Upstate New York’s economy, and our broken immigration system hurts their ability to grow and hire. This commonsense fix will help dairy farmers have the resources and workforce they need to succeed.”
“As a Central New York dairy producer, I am both excited and proud of Congressmen Brindisi and Joyce for tackling this difficult labor problem in a bipartisan fashion for our nation’s dairy farmers,” said Michael McMahon, owner and operator, E-Z Acres in Homer. “This proposed legislation provides the necessary first step to solving this problem.
“It is critical that Congress enact legislation to address the unique workforce needs of dairy producers,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation. “Without the help of foreign labor, many American dairy operations would face the threat of closure. We thank Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) and John Joyce (R-PA) for their bipartisan effort to lay down a marker that this issue must be addressed in any future immigration legislation. It’s a problem that must be solved in tandem with providing certainty to dairy’s current workforce.”
Congressman Brindisi serves on the House Agriculture Committee and is a member of the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee which has jurisdiction over policies related to all livestock, poultry, dairy, and seafood. In NY-22, the dairy industry alone supports nearly 4,000 direct jobs, more than $235 million in wages, and generates an economic impact of $1.83 billion.
Congressman Brindisi and Congressman Joyce recently led a group of bipartisan freshman members of Congress urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take strong action against manufacturers who falsely label non-dairy products as milk. The two members are also both co-sponsors of the bipartisan Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act to expand whole milk options in school lunchrooms.
“Since coming to Congress, I’ve worked to form relationships on both sides of the aisle and find common ground,” said Congressman Brindisi. “Dairy farmers in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania face many of the same challenges, so it makes sense to partner with Congressman Joyce on these issues. I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver results for our constituents.”
“The partnership I have formed with Congressman Brindisi on dairy issues is a great example of how new leadership in Washington can drive commonsense change,” said Congressman Joyce. “While we may sit on opposite sides of the aisle, our constituents have similar needs. Continuing to work with Congressman Brindisi on innovative solutions to revive the dairy industry in Pennsylvania’s 13th District will be a priority for me going forward.”