Jacobs wants dairy workers to be eligible for H-2A visa program

Posted 9 March 2021 at 7:13 pm

Press Release, Congressman Chris Jacobs

ORCHARD PARK – Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) introduced legislation that would make the dairy industry eligible for H-2A temporary agricultural visas.

“As I have traveled throughout NY-27 and met with farmers, one thing that has become clear is the need for dairy producers to have access to a steady and legal workforce. Currently, dairy workers are not eligible for H-2A status because of the way current law is interpreted by federal agencies,” Jacobs said. “This simple legislation would fix an urgent need while Congress works on broader reforms to the H-2A program.”

The Dairy H-2A Eligibility Act would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to include “dairy worker” as an eligible candidate for H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa status. Employers are currently only eligible for H-2A non-immigrant classification if they offer a temporary or seasonal position. Though H-2A workers are themselves temporary, dairy production has been interpreted to not qualify for these visas because it occurs year-round.

“Dairy’s workforce crisis is especially severe because dairy farms, which operate year-round, can’t use the H-2A program, which is seasonal. NMPF has fought for decades for H-2A access for dairy. We thank Congressman Jacobs for stepping up and making ag labor reform a priority issue, and we look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Jacobs to address the workforce needs of dairy farmers in New York and across the country,” Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation said.

“Agricultural labor reform has long been a New York Farm Bureau priority. We must address the seasonal and long-term needs of agriculture, including for the state’s dairy farms that currently do not have access to a year-round federal guest worker program. We thank Rep. Jacobs for his efforts to fix a broken system and moving the conversation forward for the betterment of our farms and food system,” David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President said.

“The bottom line is that we need a migrant worker program that respects and enforces our immigration laws while providing farmers with the workforce that they need,” Jacobs said.