Lawmakers say allowing migrants to work on dairy farms could solve shortage problem

National and World

Many American dairy farmers are struggling because they can’t find workers to fill their jobs. A Democratic lawmaker from New York and a Republican from Pennsylvania are working together to try to solve the problem.

First, low milk prices and then the trade wars battered dairy farmers. Now, it’s finding people to work on the farms.

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

Brindisi and Congressman John Joyce, of Pennsylvania, have introduced the Dairy and Sheep H-2A Visa Enhancement Act. It would add dairy workers to the list of foreign workers eligible for a temporary seasonal work permit.

Joyce said the law would allow workers on dairy farms to come to the US for a three-year period with an additional three-year extension.

“This allows them to create a stronger workforce.”

Brindisi said dairy is one of New York’s most important industries.

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

Currently, foreign dairy workers cannot receive temporary seasonal work permits because the industry is not considered seasonal.

“You’re milking cows all year round and a seasonal program is not going to work for dairy,” Brindisi said.

He and Joyce want to change that to provide relief for struggling dairy farmers.

“Traditionally, they come in very short periods of time, 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,” Joyce said.

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

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