Dairy farmers have a chance to sway lawmakers in Washington to push forward a solution to agriculture's labor needs. However, success or failure will come down to the next few days.
Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative staff has worked with other national and state agricultural groups to rally support for the AG Act. It appears unlikely that House leadership will bring forward a bill, unless they are relatively certain it has the votes needed to pass. House leadership and your representative needs to hear from you about addressing this critical need while there is still time.
This bill would create a new visa category called H-2C for year-round ag workers. It would replace an existing ag visa for seasonal work. On dairy farms, existing workers could apply for coverage under this visa and it could also be used to bring in new workers. A one-page summary can be found here.
The new program would have various requirements for H-2C visa holders, including touchback requirements with the person’s home county. Also, it would cap the overall number of visas that are made available. Current language does phase-in E-verify requirements over time. Edge endorsed the AG Act while acknowledging that the language could be improved. The bill’s author, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, has made several changes to address the concerns of dairy farmers and other ag groups.
Please act now
We need your help to convince members of the House to hold a vote on a solution to agriculture’s labor concerns. Please do these two things:
Call House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office at (202) 225-3031 and tell him farmers desperately need a fix for their labor issues. Ask him to remain committed to holding a vote in July on an ag labor solution.
You can tweet to him with this:
@SpeakerRyan, dairy farmers need an agriculture labor solution. Please hold vote on #AGAct
@SpeakerRyan: Support a year-round visa program available to dairy. #AGActRetweet
Call your representative and tell him or her that dairy farmers need a solution for their labor needs that keeps current workers and makes recruiting new workers easy. This will require a new year-round visa. Urge your representative to support the AG Act.
Here is a list for the ag staffers in Edge’s members’ congressional districts.