News & Resources

NMPF’s Mulhern Joins Newhouse, Lofgren for Virtual Press Conference on Farm Workforce Modernization Act

March 19, 2021

Transcript

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA): National Milk and Jim Mulhern, I can’t say enough about their effort and hard work of making sure that part of this solution includes the ability for those employers that provide full-time, year-round employment are now included in the H-2A program. Dairies, other parts of the industry are truly going to benefit from this, and it wouldn’t have happened without the hard work of the National Health Organization. And Jim Mulhern obviously is a big part of that.

Jim’s a veteran agriculture and food policy leader. And maybe even has Chuck beat in the longevity in the service. Again, decades of dedicated service to our industry. He was named the president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation back in January of 2014. And since taking over the leadership of that fine group he’s directed the dairy organizations work on. That’s a wide range of issues, including trade policy, certainly immigration reform, farm bill, better environmental policy, animal care, food labeling, of standards of identity, and about everything under the sun, as far as I can tell.

So, Jim, thank you very much for being with us tonight. Again, my truest sincerest thanks for all of your help on this and I’ll turn the floor over to you.

Jim Mulhern, NMPF: Well, thank you very much, Congressman. The thanks really goes to you and to Congresswoman Lofgren, the work that you have done and all the colleagues you’ve mentioned. This has been an incredible journey, but we wouldn’t be here tonight without all of you staying at it, working through thick and thin. Even when things looked ram and dim at some points, you didn’t give up, you kept pushing and that’s an attribute to your hard work. And it’s really everybody that’s honest with it did take a give and take our, we go back to two summers ago, almost, too when we were in those heavy negotiations, it’s been a long time coming. We got the bill done back in December of ‘19 through the House, Congresswomen Lofgren, as you said, you know, this was the second time through and she got extra credit for that to do this twice on a very, very difficult issue.

And I’ll be very brief, but just, I want to reflect that all of us in agriculture know how essential our workforce is. And before the pandemic, they were essential to our survival. And it is what you, I mentioned to Congressmen Lofgren about the production of food and fiber where in this country, it doesn’t happen without this workforce. And we knew they were essential. So last year through the pandemic, how essential they were, because as you said, there was no interruption in our food supply. We put it on the table. Seven days a week, 365 days. It’s been a year now since we went into this pandemic, and the system has worked because those workers have worked so hard. So it’s great to be here. But Congressman Newhouse, as you said it’s only one step in the journey and there’s a big step ahead of us.

But to celebrate tonight this bipartisan victory is so, so important. And now it’s onto the Senate, and I just want to echo the comments of all of you. That that’s where we have to get this done. And we need the same kind of bipartisan leadership in the Senate to move this bill. It’s been a pleasure for us to work with all of you, for dairy in particular. We have most of the milk in this country comes from farms that employ immigrant labor. And we know that much there’s undocumented. Those folks have worked very hard for very many years and it’s time that we bring them out of the shadows and give them the legal recognition that they deserve.

But importantly, for this bill as well, it puts dairy into H-2A program and that’s critical because it’s one thing we do to legalize our workforce. We’re going to be back in this situation in a number of years, if we don’t have a flow of labor in the future. And that’s why getting dairy into the H-2A program for permanent jobs, so critically important. So we’re going to celebrate this victory tonight. We look forward to working with all of my colleagues and our coalition that’s been working on this to get this bill across the line and the Senate as well. So thank you all very much.