Bill aims to make dairy workers eligible for temporary visas

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Many American dairy farmers are struggling because they can’t find workers to fill their jobs, so a pair of lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle are working together to try to solve the problem.

Congressmen Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, and John Joyce, R-Pensylvania, have introduced the Dairy and Sheep H-2A Visa Enhancement Act, which would add foreign dairy workers to the list of those eligible for a temporary seasonal work permit.

As it stands, dairy workers cannot obtain these permits because the industry is not considered seasonal. Brindisi wants to change that to provide relief to dairy farmers.

“You’re milking cows all year long so a seasonal program is not going to work for dairy,” he said.

“Our dairy farmers will tell you that they rely on a lot of workers that come from Central and South America,” Brindisi added.

Joyce says the proposal would allow workers to come to the U.S. for a three-year period with an additional three-year extension.

“Traditionally, they come in very short periods of time,” Joyce said. “But allowing the dairy farmers to have access to these workers through H-2A visas, to work for up to three years, and if that’s successful, to stay and work for an additional three years.”

“This allows them to create a stronger workforce,” he continued.

Both lawmakers say Congress must act to create a reliable worker visa program or America’s dairy farmers will be out of luck and the country’s dairy supply could run dry.

“If they can’t find workers, these farms will go out of business,” Brindisi said.

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