Calling the viability of family farms "critical to the Upstate economy," Congressman Tom Reed has introduced the Family Farm Relief Act in the House of Representatives. He introduced the bill in a bipartisan manner with Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY20) and Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY23) as original co-sponsors.
"Agriculture is the number one industry in New York," Reed observed. "Our towns rely on farmers not just for food, but the economic activity generated by the farms. Our purpose with the Family Farm Relief Act is to streamline and improve the H-2A program so that our farmers have more time to do what they do best: grow and produce the food and commodities we need."
"Healthy family farms mean better local job opportunities, both directly and indirectly related to farming," Reed said.
The Family Farm Relief Act will move administration of the current H-2A seasonal agriculture worker program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture, where the needs of the farmer are better understood. The Act includes other reforms to the H-2A visa program, which is fraught with regulatory burdens which deter use of the program. One particularly notable reform is the inclusion of dairy workers in the H-2A program (dairy farmers are not presently allowed in the H-2A program).