Reed, Gibson Lead Effort to Help New York Farmers
Congressman Tom Reed (NY-29) and Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-20) led the New York Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to the U.S. Labor Department asking them to expedite the H2A visa application process for New York farm workers. Over the past several years, delays have plagued the H2A system, resulting in labor shortages, costly delays, and uncertainty for New York farmers. In particular, this year, an ongoing dispute between the New York State Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Labor temporarily impacted individual farmers in the state.
“Immigration and farm jobs are critical issues in Upstate,” Reed said. “In meetings with farmers in the district and the Farm Bureau, I hear frustration about the challenges of H2A process. We need to ensure that our farms have an adequate and legal work force. Family farms are the backbone of our economy – the farms in my district generate a large portion of the commodities produced in the northeastern U.S. including apples, grapes, dairy and other foodstuffs. Unnecessary delays negatively impact our ability to harvest crops in a timely manner. As the upstate economy continues to struggle, our farmers literally cannot afford to wait any longer. This is an issue we will continue working on and I appreciate the bipartisan effort of my colleagues on behalf of our farmers.”
“A focus of mine has been maintaining an active dialogue with farmers throughout Upstate New York, which allows me to gain a firsthand understanding of the issues that threaten the profitability and viability of our family farms. Through my Agriculture Advisory Council, my day spent working on a farm in Valatie, and individual meetings with New York farmers, I am keenly aware that trouble accessing qualified, reliable labor is a principal problem in our shrinking rural communities. Thus, it is imperative that the H2A program work in a swift and secure manner, to avoid delays, and provide growers with the workers they need to harvest their crops,” said Gibson.“Our family farmers are central to the fabric of our upstate communities, and I remain committed to working on their behalf here in Washington.”
Signing the letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, in addition to Congressmen Gibson and Reed, were Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25), Richard Hanna (NY-24), Brian Higgins (NY-27), Kathleen Hochul (NY-26), Maurice Hinchey (NY-22), Bill Owens (NY-23), Louise Slaughter (NY-28), and Paul Tonko (NY-21).