Washington, DC – Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19) announced the introduction this week of the Family Farm Relief Act of 2015, legislation he authored to move the H-2A Agricultural Visa program from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture to better meet the unique labor needs of farmers and agricultural businesses.
“This is common-sense, constituent-driven reform,” said Congressman Gibson. “I deeply appreciate the guidance of the hard-working men and women who grow our food and protect the rural landscape of Upstate New York. Too many of these farmers face labor shortages—and lost income—due to needless bureaucratic delays. Our bill puts this program in the hands of officials who fully appreciate the demands of running a family farm, simplifying the application process to ensure timely planting and harvests.”
“The Family Farm Relief Act would seriously address a number of our labor needs in New York,” said New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. “The bill reduces onerous regulatory burdens, expands the number of farms that can access the H-2A program, and would give farms the flexibility needed to get food from the farm to the dinner table. New York Farm Bureau greatly appreciates the efforts of Rep. Chris Gibson and the other co-sponsors of this bill. They understand that we need more than enforcement to solve our urgent immigration issues.”
Congressman Gibson recently joined 60 other Members of Congress in calling on the House Judiciary Committee to first address needed agricultural immigration reform before moving forward with mandatory E-Verify legislation before the Committee.
The Family Farm Relief Act of 2015 provides a strong starting point to address this request. It takes practical measures such as allowing visa applicants to fill out H-2A applications on paper or online, requiring a user-friendly online system, and ending burdensome requirements on advertising and prevailing practice surveys.
“This bill ensures that unelected bureaucrats do not tell our farmers how to advertise for domestic workers,” said Congressman Gibson, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. “Instead of requiring farmers to advertise for help in at least three states, an arbitrary and burdensome requirement, our bill replaces that requirement with a much more workable standard of advertising within 150 miles of the farm.”
The Family Farm Relief Act of 2015 also allows farm cooperatives and other agricultural associations to apply for workers for their members, makes the program more workable for dairy and other livestock operations, and requires reporting to Congress if delays occur in the H-2A Visa application process.
The original co-sponsors of the bill are Representatives Chris Collins (NY-27), John Katko (NY-24), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Tom Reed (NY-23), and Elise Stefanik (NY-21).