SINCLAIRVILLE - U.S. Rep. Tom Reed was down on the farm Tuesday, hoping to push legislation to assist the state's agricultural industry find seasonal and part-time workers.
Reed, seeking re-election in the new 23rd Congressional District, was at the Tenpas Farm in Sinclairville to promote the Family Farm Relief Act he recently introduced to the House of Representatives.
The bill would include dairy farmers in the H-2A program, which allows foreign national entry into the country for seasonal or temporary work. Dairy farmers currently are not in the agricultural labor program.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and Roger Tenpas speak Tuesday at Tenpas Farms regarding state legislation to aid dairy farms in finding seasonal and part-time workers as part of the H-2A program.
P-J photo by Eric Tichy
"What we're looking for is some strong reforms to make it easier on our family farmers to hire folks," Reed told The Post-Journal. "To move the reform to consistently streamline the paperwork, making it easier on farmers to focus on farming rather than (Washington) D.C. bureaucracy."
Reed's bipartisan legislation - his first to be introduced in Chautauqua County - also would move administration from the U.S. Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture.
"To me that's just a common-sense type of reform," he said.
Roger Tenpas said the legislation should make it easier to find seasonal workers. He added that in some instances, it is hard to find employees willing to work.
"It will make it easier for us to get workers in here," Tenpas said. "There's a lot of loop holes to get certain workers in here and a lot of paperwork to do it."
Asked how the legislation would help the county, Reed noted the region's "important agricultural industry."
The bill "expands the opportunity that the farmers, the employers will have to get people to come and work their farms," the Corning Republican said, pointing out that he has been approached by farmers regarding the lack of workers.
"... And it's about jobs. It's about creating jobs on the family farm, and with agriculture being the No. 1 industry in New York state we're going to stand vigorously in defense of it and make it easier for these guys to do what they need to do to get people to work on the family farm."
Reed faces Democratic candidate Nate Shinagawa, of Ithaca, in the Nov. 6 general election. The Southern Tier Congressional District includes Chautauqua County for the first time in a decade.