NMPF Statement on Appropriations Language Allowing Dairy Farmer Participation in H-2A Program
July 14, 2021
From NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern:
“NMPF thanks Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) for their tireless efforts on behalf of America’s dairy producers to include year-round employees on farms in the H-2A farm worker visa program. We urge Congress not to delay providing dairy farmers with access to the H-2A program during a time of critical labor needs.
“Dairy farmers largely have not been able to use H-2A visas because the current program is limited only to the temporary and seasonal labor needs of agricultural employers. The current H-2A program simply isn’t an option for a commodity that ‘harvests’ its product multiple times a day, every day.
“The Cuellar-Newhouse bipartisan amendment to this year’s Homeland Security Appropriations bill would allow farm employers to use the H-2A visa program to hire foreign workers, regardless of whether those employees are engaged in temporary or seasonal work. Under this amendment, dairy farmers and other year-round producers could use the H-2A program to supplement their domestic workforce.
“Beyond just providing dairy temporary access to the H-2A program, the measure is important because we must continue to build momentum for ag labor reform as we await a Senate measure that carries forward and improves upon the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which the House approved in a bipartisan vote in March.
“Recent history shows bipartisan support for farm workforce legislation that addresses the needs of producers and farmworkers. It is critical that the government continues to build on these bipartisan efforts to create a system that provides secure, legal employment. We thank lawmakers for their efforts toward achieving this goal.”