New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher sent out a statement Wednesday asking that agricultural businesses be allowed to remain open and productive. He wrote:
The agricultural community is strong. We understand adversity and come together in trying times. Our farms and agribusinesses are working hard to follow safety protocols and ensuring food production continues for the people of New York State and the country.
For this to continue, it is also important that agriculture remain open for business. New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to Governor Cuomo commending him on the state’s response to COVID-19, but also asking that any mandatory business closures exempt farms, agricultural businesses that serve as a supply line, and food processing plants.
The letter reads in part, “Despite the spread of the COVID-19 virus, cows need to be milked, livestock needs to be fed, seeds need to be planted, machinery has to be repaired and regulations mandating environmental compliance will need to be met in order for food to continue to be placed on store shelves. The state’s food security and livestock health depend on obtaining an exemption from mandatory workplace staff reductions or closures for businesses across the state.”
In addition, New York Farm Bureau is concerned that the United States’ Consulates have suspended in-person processing of H-2A agricultural guest worker visas just as the spring planting season is weeks away. While we understand that plans are being implemented to consider workers who have previously been granted H-2A visas, it would halt the hiring of any new foreign workers. This could delay both planting and harvesting on farms and result in lower food production.
New York Farm Bureau has expressed our thoughts to the White House and members of New York’s congressional delegation. We have also encouraged our members to contact their representatives as well.
The letter to President Trump reads in part, “With the continued spread of COVID-19, now more than ever, it is essential that America maintain its level of high-quality food production to ensure food security for the nation. These H-2A visa workers help to plant, manage, and harvest essential crops, including fruits and vegetables. While we are not asking the Administration to jeopardize public health and safety or border security, NYFB requests that the Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ensure that all H-2A visa applications are reviewed and acted upon in a timely manner to ensure the flow of approved H-2A workers into the U.S.”
Americans are coming together to get through this pandemic as a united nation. Farmers are doing their part, and the people of this great state and country can rest assured we will get the job done for us all.”
Click here to read the full letter to Governor Cuomo: tinyurl.com/NYfBCUOMO
Click here to read the full letter to President Trump: tinyurl.com/NYFBTrumpH-2A