WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWTI) — On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representative passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

The bill was led by California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Washington Congressman Dan Newhouse. New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik also voted in favor of the legislation as she claims it “includes solutions to address the labor crisis facing American agriculture.”

“North Country farmers have long suffered from an unstable workforce and constant demand for labor,” stated Stefanink. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses this reality by reforming the broken H-2A program, while ensuring job security for American workers and stability for our nation’s food supply.”

According to Congress documents the passing of the Farm Workforce Modernizations Act would complete the following.

  • Simplify the H-2A program
  • Establish a mandatory, nationwide E-verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers
  • Allow farmers to post job openings on an online job registry
  • Provide year-round access to the H-2A program for industries with year-round labor needs, including the dairy industry

Locally based to the North Country, John Ferry of Milk Street Dairy in Watertown also released a statement on the new legislation.

“The NNY dairy industry is fortunate to have a Representative in Congress that has invested the time to understand our needs and has followed through by sponsoring a bill to act on our behalf,” share Ferry. “Our most significant challenge is a reliable workforce, and reform of the H-2A visa program is an important step toward that goal.”

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, H.R. 1603, was passed by the House of Representatives on March 18, 2021.