Farmers in New England and New York will find that it is considerably easier for them to be able to get a hold of a more reliable labor force after the sweeping changes to the immigration laws in the United States that have been proposed in the new 844-page bill that was presented to Congress on Tuesday, according to Senator Charles Schumer.
“There’s going to be a lot of relief for our dairy farmers, our apple growers and our other specialty crop growers,” says Schumer. “I think we’re going to see our agriculture industry start growing at a much greater pace because of this bill.”
Delegations of upstate farmers from New York have been traveling to Washington in order to lobby for the expansion of agriculture’s guest worker program. At the moment dairy farms are not eligible for H-2A, the temporary US visas program, because it only applies to seasonal workers and dairy farmers require workers all year round to help with milking.
The expansion of the guest worker program has been pushed by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who says that farmers in Vermont have to rely on between 1,500 and 2,000 undocumented workers in Vermont and says that he would welcome the process that the new immigration legislation is proposing as it would resolve what he calls longstanding policies that are unfair to the experiences and requirements of dairy farmers in Vermont. “The draft bill unveiled by the bipartisan group provides dairy farmers with access to lawful foreign workers where local workers are not available,” he notes.