OPINION The American Dairy Coalition supports a federal bill that has been introduced by U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, and U.S. Rep John Joyce, R-Pennsylvania, to expand the current H-2A visa program to allow for its use by dairy farmers.

The bill will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, making it suitable for the year-round labor needs of the dairy industry by allowing for an initial three-year visa with an option to extend for another three years. Under current law dairy workers are not allowed to utilize H-2A visas because the dairy industry is not considered seasonal. The new legislation would change that to allow workers from outside of the United States to utilize the H-2A to access agricultural jobs on dairy farms.

“It is clear that one of the reasons our dairy farmers in Pennsylvania’s 13th District are struggling is because they are lacking the manpower that they need to produce their goods and get them to market,” Joyce said. “Milk production in our country relies heavily on our migrant workers, and for far too long Congress has harmed the dairy industry by failing to fix our broken immigration system. This small change to the H-2A visa classification will come as welcome news to our dairy farmers and will give them flexibility that they need to be more efficient and profitable.”

As a fourth-generation dairy farmer, my family has poured our hearts and souls into our dairy farm and the dairy industry for more than 110 years. Our farm along with many other dairy farms throughout our great country has come to rely on migrant workers to milk, feed and care for our dairy cows on our farms. We need to have a steady highly skilled and reliable work force to continue to properly care for our cows and to continue to produce one of the safest and healthiest foods in the world. I applaud Joyce and Brindisi for understanding the needs of the American dairy farmer. I applaud them for introducing a bill that will amend the current H2A program to allow dairy farmers throughout the country to access year-round migrant workers. Please take a few minutes to contact a representative in congress to pass this bill into law.

The American Dairy Coalition encourages all members to contact legislators to encourage them to support this bill. It’s a significant step forward in securing a reliable labor force to care for our cows.

Walt Moore is president of the American Dairy Coalition, is a farmer-led national lobbying organization of modern dairy farmers that focuses on federal dairy policy. Visit www.americandairycoalitioninc.com for more information.