Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would allow dairy farmers to utilize a federal visa program to bring foreign workers to the United States.
Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Herb Kohl (Wisc.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) introduced the H-2A Improvement Act (S.852), which will authorize foreign dairy workers and sheepherders to remain in the United States for an initial period of three years, and gives the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services the authority to approve a worker for an additional three-year period.
The legislation also states that an employer filing a petition to employ H-2A workers in positions such as dairy workers or sheepherders will not be required to show that such positions are of a seasonal or temporary nature. The diary industry has coordinated with the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) in its efforts of recent years to design a program similar to the sheep industry's labor provision.
We plan to work with the senators from sheep states, including Enzi, to codify the key provisions of the sheepherder H-2A program," said Margaret Soulen Hinson (Idaho), ASI president.