U.S. Representative Richard Hanna wrote to leaders of the House of Representatives urging reforms to address the need for the agriculture industry to have access to a safe and reliable workforce.
The agriculture community in New York state has consistently raised this issue as the biggest limiting factor to agricultural stability and expansion, according to a news release. Estimates in the state indicate that more than 1,040 farms are highly vulnerable of going out of business or having to dramatically reduce operations as a result of labor concerns, the release stated
“Agriculture is an important part of our heritage in upstate New York and should be a bright part of our future,” Rep. Hanna, R - Barneveld, said in the release. “But our farmers could not be more clear when they tell me that they need greater access to a legal, reliable workforce to keep their small businesses in operation.
“Now is the time for Congress to provide Upstate farmers with a modern, effective system to legally hire foreign workers for positions that otherwise would go unfilled. When our farms have the workforce they need to invest and expand, all our communities and small businesses benefit because so much of our economy is somehow connected to agriculture. I look forward to working with my colleagues to not only complete a new Farm Bill but also reform our immigration laws so that New York farmers can feed our communities and export their products around the world for years to come.”
If New York were to lose farms, it could result in a potential reduction in agriculture production in excess of $1.5 billion, as well as the loss of 10,510 full-time jobs “on the farm” and 23,600 jobs “off the farm” in agricultural processing, according to the Farm Credit East Knowledge Exchange Report.
Joining Rep. Hanna were upstate New York Republicans Reps. Chris Gibson, Chris Collins and Tom Reed. They called on House leadership to complete the delayed Farm Bill this month and to move quickly on addressing these concerns that would help upstate farmers secure reliable workers, which would protect our economy, create jobs and operate within the law, according to the release.