Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik voted in favor of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, legislation that she cosponsored and supported in the 116th Congress. The bill, led by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Dan Newhouse (WA-04), includes solutions to address the labor crisis facing American agriculture.
Congresswoman Stefanik said: “North Country farmers have long suffered from an unstable workforce and constant demand for labor. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses this reality by reforming the broken H-2A program, while ensuring job security for American workers and stability for our nation’s food supply.”
Specifically, the bill would:
- Simplify the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers
- Establish a mandatory, nationwide E-verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers
- Allow farmers to post job openings on an online job registry, modernizing recruitment and ensuring American workers have opportunity to apply
- Provide year-round access to the H-2A program for industries with year-round labor needs, including the dairy industry, which does not have access
Farmers and agricultural producers in New York’s 21st Congressional District overwhelming support this legislation:
"Agricultural labor reform must be a top priority in Washington to address the seasonal and long term needs of our farms, employees and food supply. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a positive step forward, and the New York Farm Bureau thanks Rep. Stefanik for her support on the legislation," said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President and dairy farmer from Madrid, NY.
“Access to a stable and reliable workforce continues to be a top issue for dairy farmers, myself included. I am appreciative of Congresswoman Stefanik’s support for this legislation and her history of efforts to reform the H-2A program. She understands our need for meaningful agricultural labor reform that will help ensure the continued success of our farms.” – Bill Peck, Welcome Stock Farm, Schuylerville, NY.
“Immigration reform is a top priority for New York’s dairy farm families. With an extremely tight local labor market and no federal program available to hire fully vetted immigrant employees on a year-round basis, dairy farms of all sizes need meaningful reform. We are grateful for Congresswoman Stefanik’s continued support to improve our unique labor challenges and secure our industry a dependable workforce into the future.” – Neal Rea, Reafield Farm, Cambridge, NY.
“As a 3rd generation apple grower from the Champlain Valley in New York I want to thank Congresswoman Stefanik for her leadership and support for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This legislation is long overdue. We have individuals who have been coming back to our farm seasonally through the H-2A program for 30 years, and they have been great assets and friends to our business and community. The provisions in this bill will help our workers, help our farm, and help to provide some stability to the vital H2A labor program which is an invaluable lifeline to modern agriculture in the US.” – Jesse Mulbury, Northern Orchards, Peru, NY.
The NNY dairy industry is fortunate to have a Representative in Congress that has invested the time to understand our needs and has followed through by sponsoring a bill to act on our behalf. Our most significant challenge is a reliable workforce, and reform of the H-2A visa program is an important step toward that goal. – John Ferry, Milk Street Dairy, Watertown, NY.
“Thanks to bipartisan efforts in Washington and the leadership of Rep. Stefanik, the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides dairy farms access to an essential workforce that will help the industry remain viable and strong," said Northeast Dairy Producers Association Board Chair John Dickinson. “Farms are the backbone of our country. They provide us with local milk and other nourishing products, and in New York alone generate more than $5.7 billion for our economy. By expanding the H-2A seasonal worker program, our leaders have taken an important step forward to ensure the year-round dairy industry has the resources needed to continue to provide milk and other dairy products to groceries, farmers' markets and food pantries, and all while supporting our regional economies."
“We applaud House passage once again of the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which makes significant strides toward finally addressing dairy’s unique workforce challenges,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Congresswoman Stefanik has long been a leader on this issue on behalf of Upstate New York dairy farmers and we thank her for helping to build support for moving this bill through the House.”
“We commend Congresswoman Stefanik, for her commitment to agricultural labor reform,” said US Apple President and CEO Jim Bair. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will stabilize the current agricultural workforce by creating a process for them to gain work authorization to continue working in agriculture. It also brings needed modernization and cost containment to the H-2A agricultural guest worker program.”