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American Dairy Coalition Inc.
PO Box 10976, Green Bay, WI 54307-0976
No industry faces a greater challenge building and maintaining a work force than the dairy industry. And no segment of the dairy industry faces a greater challenge than dairy producers. That said, processors and the entire dairy supply chain also rely heavily on immigrant labor. And dairy producers, with a 12 month-a-year cycle, need to make a far stronger effort than the rest of agriculture to succeed.
It is no secret that the dairy industry - especially the producer segment - is well behind other industries and other segments of agriculture, in securing favorable immigration legislative language. E-verify has already begun moving, while agriculture and dairy have not.
Nationwide, the dairy industry has been challenged by the lack of a stable workforce. Many farming operations need hands-on labor to get their milk into the marketplace. As young Americans are increasingly obtaining education beyond high school, the available workforce has diminished. We must acknowledge that immigrants play a key to the future economic success of the dairy industry. Not only do these workers affect the dairy industry, but also surrounding industries such as feed companies, equipment manufacturing companies, and banks. The current immigration system, which does not provide less-skilled foreigners with a legal way to enter the U.S. and work a year-round job, is not suitable for today’s thriving American economy.
The American Dairy Coalition has begun bringing together producers, processors and the dairy supply chain in a unified voice for immigration policy that maximizes the opportunity for U. S. dairy producers to continue to grow in supplying America and the world with essential, nutritious, safe milk and dairy products.
The American Dairy Coalition wants you to join in this effort.
ADC has been involved in the following immigration legislation:
The Ag Act (Agricultural Guestworker Act)
Introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
- Replaces the impractical H-2A program with a sensible guestworker program. The new visa category (known as H-2C) is designed to boost
the modern agricultural labor market as needed for both workers currently in the U.S. and allows new workers from outside the U.S.
- Eliminates bureaucratic red-tape and will be administered by the USDA
- Any immigrants currently working in dairy/livestock, agriculture and agriculture-related businesses are allowed to participate
- The H-2C allows immigrant workers an initial stay of 36 months
- Allows for a driver’s license
Dairy Act of 2017
Introduced March 2017 by Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) Co-Chair of the Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus
- Adds “the dairy industry” to the existing H-2A visa program allowing NEW workers from outside the U.S.
- Allows renewals every 18 months while workers remain in the U.S.
Newhouse H-2A Amendment
Introduced July 2017 by Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA), House Appropriations Committee
- Clarifies that all of agriculture, including the dairy industry may use the H-2A program
- Good for the year 2018
- Allows only NEW workers from outside the U.S.
State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program
Introduced May 2017 by Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security
- Allows current workers and new workers from outside the U.S. the ability to stay and receive a visa
- Grants legal status and drivers licenses but not citizenship
- Restricts access to all welfare, tax credits and entitlements
ADC's previous proposal for a State-Sponsored Visa Program
State-sponsored visas: a new non-immigrant visa category created by Congress—alongside the current visa programs—to allow states to sponsor foreign workers, investors, and entrepreneurs to live and work in their states.
State-centered approach: The Federal government has consistently shown itself incapable of predicting the labor needs of the states, and states have more local knowledge of the types of workers and immigrants that they need.
Logistics: Similar to the current employer-sponsored system, states would petition the federal government to ask it to issue visas to immigrants that they wish to sponsor.
Visa Types: States would be able to use visas to sponsor immigrants using any criteria that suited their states—high or low-skilled workers, investors, or entrepreneurs—as long as they met the federal health and criminal requirements for admission.
Role of Federal Government: The Federal government would have oversight over the system. They would conduct background checks, do interviews, and issue the visas.
Constitutionality: Congress has plenary power over immigration and can choose to admit (or not admit) any foreign person based on whatever criterion it chooses. In this case, the criterion would be sponsorship by a state.
Examples from Other Countries: Canada has a provincial nominee program that allows provinces to sponsor immigrants. Similar programs are used in Germany and Australia.
Enforcement: Immigrants are only eligible to renew their status which expires after 3 years if they comply with the rules, work only in the state sponsored them, and have the state re-sponsor them for the visa again.
Across state lines: While individuals would be required to work in the state that sponsored them, this is actually somewhat less difficult than under the current employer-sponsored worker programs, which force them to work for a single firm. The program allows states to enter into compacts with other states to share workers under the same set of rules.
Limitations: Each state would be guaranteed 2,500 visas, and a share of a pool of 125,000 visas (another 2,500 per state) based on the population of the state.
Benefits: This program would not include citizenship, and it restricts access to all welfare, tax credits, and entitlements like health care.
Download State-Based Visa Program talking points here.
Additional information: Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act)
UPDATE 10/25/17: House Judiciary Committee Takes Monumental Step Forward
The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) Applauds the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and the Judiciary Committee on moving the AG Act forward. America’s farmers and ranchers are extremely pleased to see, after 20 years, a bill finally moving forward that allows them to remain productive and competitive. Read more here.
View ADC's previous letter of support here.
On October 5, 2017 ADC held an informative session highlighting the details of the recently introduced Agriculture Guestworker Act (AG Act) at this year’s World Dairy Expo event. Before a standing-room-only crowd, a message recorded especially for ADC’s attendees by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was played to provide an overview of his AG Act bill. This bill will create a new visa category, the H-2C, that will replace the outdated and cumbersome H-2A visa category. The Ag Act will provide a workable solution to provide dairy operations access to year-round, safe and reliable labor. Attendees engaged in a question and answer session led by ADC Founder and CEO, Laurie Fischer and had the opportunity to provide feedback that will go to Chairman Goodlatte. Click on the image below to view Chairman Goodlatte’s video:
The Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act) replaces the impractical H-2A program with a sensible guestworker program. The new visa catagory (known as H-2C) is designed to boost the modern agricultural labor market as needed.
• The AG Act eliminates bureaucratic red-tape. The program will be administered by the USDA which understands the unique needs of America’s farm and ranch operations and the challenges of processing raw, perishable agricultural commodities.
• The AG Act is market-driven and adaptable. By offering workers and employers more choices in their employment arrangements, the Ag Act offers flexibility and makes it easier for workers to move freely throughout the marketplace to meet demands. With limited exceptions, H-2C workers can be employed under contract or at will.
• The AG Act reduces costly and abusive litigation.
- Unlike the Senate bill, the AG Act does not give guestworkers a new, private right of action to sue farmers and ranchers in federal court.
- In response to unremitting criticism of the behavior of taxpayer- funded Legal Services Corporation (LSC) attorneys from every corner of the countryside, as well as from LSC’s own Office of Inspector General, LSC attorneys are not permitted to participate in lawsuits against the H-2C employers.
• The AG Act eliminates the Adverse Effect Wage Rate once and for all. Under this program, employers will pay guestworkers minimum wage + 15%, not a wage dreamed up by Labor Department bureaucrats.
• The AG Act creates a modern and streamlined agricultural guestworker program. Under the program, registered agricultural employers will attest to their need for workers when efforts to recruit U.S. workers do not yield the help they need.
• The AG Act recognizes that not all agriculture jobs require the same level of skill and experience. This program gives employers the opportunity to invest their time training workers for specialized or hard to fill jobs by allowing workers an initial stay of 36 months.
• The AG Act does not require growers to train and hire unneeded workers after their workforce is established and work begins (thereby eliminating the often-abused “50% rule“.)
• The AG Act gives employers the option of providing housing and transportation to workers.
• The AG Act serves the diverse interests of the agriculture industry. The adaptable program will support aquaculture operations, dairies, food processors and other year-round agricultural employers. The Agricultural Guestworker Act provides farm labor stability. The bill will encourage illegal farm workers to identify themselves, participate in the program (to the extent that work is available), and return home to re-establish ties to their home countries.
• The AG Act requires a maximum periodic touchback of 45 days. The worker can accumulate time outside the U.S. toward the touchback total during the initial 36 months of their visa.
Download additional information about the AG Act here.