Peterson introduces Bipartisan Ag labor bill

Congressman Collin C. Peterson and a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday introduced The Farm Worker Modernization Act of 2019, legislation that will provide agricultural operations with access to a legal and stable workforce, including a year-round visa program for dairies. Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, is an original co-sponsor of the legislation alongside nearly 30 House Republicans and Democrats.

"Agriculture needs a reliable and legal source of workers," said Peterson. "I want to thank the bipartisan group of Members who worked with ag groups to come up with this initial bill that can help move this dialogue forward. This effort has produced a proposal that provides a better option than the status quo for many parts of U.S. agriculture. As this discussion continues, we need to also address meat and poultry processing workforce needs."

Leaders from the dairy industry in the Seventh District and across Minnesota voiced their support for the bill as well, thanking Chairman Peterson for his leadership on the issue.

"Labor continues to be one of the biggest items holding dairy farmers back," said Lucas Sjostrom, Executive Director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and a rural Brooten resident. "In a time of short crop windows and high stress, labor availability can truly be the difference between a farm making it to next year or not. If passed, this bill finally provides dairy farmers access to the same pool of labor many in agriculture have utilized for decades. We look forward to a real dairy immigration program that considers the needs of both employee and employer for a successful relationship."

"As a dairy farmer, I milk cows all year long, as opposed to harvesting a crop at a specific time of year," added Bruce Maas, an Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI) dairy farmer from Redwood County. "I am grateful to Chairman Peterson for recognizing the unique labor challenges that dairy faces and working with Republicans and Democrats alike to push forward legislation that addresses dairy's workforce needs by allowing farmers like to me access a revamped guest worker program."

"Securing access to a stable workforce is absolutely vital to the future of the dairy industry. As a dairy farmer, I milk cows 365 days a year, rain or shine or snow, so the current H2A seasonal guestworker program simply does not work for me and other dairy farmers," said Brad Vold, a dairy farmer in Pope County and Land O'Lakes, Inc. co-op member. "I commend Chairman Peterson for his bipartisan work in advancing legislation that helps solve dairy's unique workforce challenges by allowing dairy to access the H2A program."

"I applaud Representative Peterson for joining a bi-partisan effort to secure a stable labor force for agriculture," said Casey Schlauderaff, a Detroit Lakes dairy farmer and Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) co-op member."By cosponsoring the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, he continues to demonstrate his commitment to dairy farmers, ensuring we have the tools we need to succeed – a stable labor force, access to foreign markets and price risk management tools. Minnesota's farmers are well represented by Chairman Peterson, and we appreciate his dedication to our success."


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