New England News
5:39 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Immigration Reform Deal Includes Agricultural Provisions

Credit WAMC/Pat Bradley

New York Senator Charles Schumer says the state’s agriculture sector will find it easier to secure a reliable labor force under the recently announced immigration reform deal.



The bipartisan immigration deal announced Tuesday includes provisions that should help New York farmers.   Senator Schumer, a Democrat, says a new guest worker W-2 and W-3 visa program will ensure that dairy, fruit and vegetable farmers have a year-round supply of labor.  Dairy farmers in particular have been hampered because current guest worker programs apply to seasonal workers and do not account for year-round agricultural operations like dairy.
Senator Schumer says a severe labor shortage has led to a subsequent loss of crops – up to 25 percent nationwide.

New York Farm Bureau Public Policy Director Julie Suarez says members are excited by the  agricultural immigration reform provisions.

Northeast Dairy Farmers’ Cooperatives Senior Dairy Policy Advisor Bob Gray started working for  agricultural immigration reform in 1998 because a large percentage of farms have immigrant workers.

Gray notes that Farm Credit East has analyzed the potential economic impact of immigration reforms.

Julie Suarez notes that while senators have a prospective deal, it still needs to pass the Senate and House.

The Farm Bureau’s Julie Suarez says it’s difficult to know how many immigrant farm workers are in New York. Bureau of Labor Statistics job numbers are predicated on non-farm jobs, and farm employers are not surveyed.  Suarez has also seen estimates from the Bureau of Commerce up to 60 thousand, which includes the proprietors and family workers.

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