Bills could impact dairy industry’s future

By American Dairy  Coalition

On Oct. 25, two important bills passed through the House Judiciary Committee, both with the potential to have a large impact on dairy producers across the nation who are struggling to find reliable labor.

The first of these two bills is the Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act). This bill will discontinue the H-2A visa and replace it with an H-2C program that would allow dairy-operation employers with year-round work to apply. It eliminates requirements that employers provide transportation and housing and allows employers to have contractual or at-will agreements with workers.

While not perfect, this bill could have a huge positive impact on farmers, allowing the industry to move the dial toward a workable guest-worker program that is functional and not bogged down with inefficiencies and bureaucratic red tape.

The second bill that passed through the judiciary committee was the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711). This bill mandates all U.S. employers to verify the work eligibility of all future hires through the E-Verify system. E-Verify cross checks the Social Security numbers of newly hired employees against the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security records to ensure workers are eligible for employment in the U.S.

Many Republicans believe nationwide E-Verify is a critical component to the interior enforcement of our immigration laws and will help maintain the integrity of our immigration system.

Both bills will now move on to a full vote in the House of Representatives — the first of many steps before they can land on the president’s desk to be signed into law. It is absolutely crucial that we work together as an industry to ensure that the Legal Workforce Act does not pass without the AG Act. We must ensure our nation’s farmers have the ability to recruit legal, safe and reliable workers to fill the positions that domestic workers continually pass up despite increased wages and benefits.

If mandatory E-Verify were to pass without any type of legal recruitment tool, our nation’s farmers could be left in a much more dire situation than they already are.

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) has worked extensively with Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), on the AG Act and will continue to do so, ensuring the bill provides a workable solution to farmers and contains items that are essential for the bill to continue through the House of Representatives and onto the Senate floor.

However, more work is needed to ensure legislators hear from the voices that matter most : the American dairy farmer.

ADC is looking for producers across the country who are motivated for change and want to help us move this bill through Congress. You can learn more about how you can help at www.americandairycoalitioninc.com or contact us at info@americandairycoalitioninc.com.   

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