Rep. Owens says visa reforms needed to benefit North Country dairy farmers
Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 6:35 am

Congressman Bill Owens says visa reforms are needed to ensure dairy farmers have a stable workforce.

With Congress set to begin debating comprehensive immigration reform as early as this week, Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) and other representatives introduced legislation aimed at helping New York dairy farmers by granting them access to an important visa program.

“Dairy farmers play a tremendously important role in job creation and economic development in rural New York, but finding and maintaining an adequate labor supply throughout the year is a consistent challenge for the industry,” Owens said. “This legislation takes steps to improve the system and reduce burdens on dairy farmers so operations across New York will have every opportunity to grow and succeed in today’s economy.”

The H-2A visa program allows businesses to hire foreign workers when domestic labor is unavailable. Although other sectors of agriculture currently have access to the H-2A program, dairy farmers do not. That disparity has made it difficult for dairy farmers to secure a stable workforce. The H-2A Improvement Act would expand the H-2A program to allow dairy farmers access to three-year visas that would better accommodate their workforce needs.