Rep. Tom Reed at Schuyler County Farm to Talk Agriculture Reforms in Immigration Reform
Rep. Tom Reed visited Bergen Farms in Odessa Tuesday to focus on key agricultural reforms to be included in comprehensive immigration reform. Reed says the broken H-2A program must be transformed to allow New York’s agriculture industry to reach its full potential.
“We recognize there are problems with the current H-2A program so we’re focusing on reforms, not a program we already know is broken and fails to meet the needs of farmers,” Reed said. “Our ultimate goal is ensuring farmers have access to a stable, legal, qualified workforce. It’s about whether or not our farmers can harvest their crops and it’s about helping the number one industry in New York.”
Saying the federal government should provide a solution to farmers’ worker needs, Reed will reintroduce the Family Farm Relief Act, a bill Reed previously introduced with Reps. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Bill Owens (D-NY). “Agriculture brings affordable, locally grown food to our families’ kitchen tables and an effective system means our famers can continue to produce a safe, abundant food supply.”
Reed is working on provisions to include dairy farms in the program, as these farmers are currently excluded from the H-2A program. Reed also says he is working to move administration of the current H-2A seasonal agricultural worker program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture and allow farmers to co-op workers with other farms so that each of the farms’ needs are met.
“Operations like Bergen Farms here in Odessa are small businesses too and these farmers need certainty in order to make decisions for their operations,” Reed continued. “A stable, legal workforce is central to that certainty and will have a positive economic impact felt locally. We need to put our farmers in a position where they have a reliable workforce to meet their demand and do what they do best.”
Both the House and Senate are currently working on immigration reform plans. For many, agricultural provisions will be essential in broader immigration reform.