Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has signed on as an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, introduced yesterday. The bill is being led by Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-4) and Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and includes solutions to address the labor crisis facing American agriculture. The bill provides a pathway to legal status for undocumented farmworkers who have been working in agriculture for at least two years and plan to continue in their jobs. Additionally, the bill allows year-round workers, including dairy workers, to gain access to the H-2A program. It also simplifies the H-2A application process and establishes a mandatory E-Verify program to maintain employment authorization and records for the agricultural workforce.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the North Country, which is why I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation to ensure that our farmers have access to a stable, legal workforce, allowing them to continue to produce abundant, safe, and affordable food,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “We are fortunate to have a wide range of agriculture operations in the North Country that create jobs and drive our economy, and we are one of the top dairy-producing districts in the country. Securing a reliable and skilled workforce is essential to maintain the success of those operations. This legislation is an important step in addressing the needs of our dedicated, hardworking farmers and I will continue to be a leading advocate for them here in Congress.”

“New York Farm Bureau believes in common-sense immigration reform and has made it a priority for more than two decades,” said David Fisher, President of New York Farm Bureau. “We appreciate Congresswoman Stefanik’s efforts highlighting this very important issue and support for the bi-partisan legislative process. We hope to find a pathway forward to resolve this matter once and for all to benefit our farms, employees and food supply.”

“The bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides an important starting point for badly needed improvements to agriculture immigration policy that address dairy’s unique workforce challenges,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “NMPF would like to thank Congresswoman Stefanik for supporting this effort on behalf of dairy farmers in Upstate New York and nationwide, and we look forward to continuing to work with her as this important legislation moves forward.”

On behalf our dairy farm members, NEDPA would like to extend our thanks and support to Congresswoman Stefanik and all House cosponsors for introducing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act”, said Jon Greenwood, Chair of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA). This legislation will give a much-needed pathway forward for dairy workers to be included into a guest worker program.  Because of the full-time, year-round workforce need that the dairy industry has, we have not been eligible for the H-2A visa program.   While the legislation is not perfect, we are grateful for the bipartisan effort in taking this important step to support agriculture employers and workers alike.  The future of our farms is dependent upon a skilled and consistent workforce.

“Legislation that streamlines the process for a legal, reliable workforce for all of agriculture is long overdue”, said Cynthia Haskins, President of the New York Apple Association. “The New York apple growers are appreciative of the hard work that went into this Act”.

“The legislation represents a significant improvement over the status quo for our growers in the H-2A program and those who employ domestic workers”, said Jim Bair, President & CEO of the U.S. Apple Association. “The legislation is a compromise and the first step in a lengthy process. We will continue to provide input and seek improvements as that process moves forward.”