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Apple growers lobby for improved guest worker program

Mar 25, 2019 2:15 pm
Dan Freedman is reporting for the Times Union a delegation of New York apple growers in early March visited congressional offices in Washington D.C., to lobby for improvements to the country's guest worker program. The trip was organized by the New York Apple Association. The growers visited Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, as well as Rep. Antonio Delgado, Democrat of Rhinebeck, Rep. Elise Stefanik, Republican of Schuylerville, and four others. With 29.5 million bushels annually, New York is the nation’s No.-2 apple-producing state behind Washington. Much of the agricultural workforce is made up of immigrant labor. Some upstate farmers are finding the labor pool dwindling due to President Donald Trump's deployment of ICE to arrest and deport those in the country illegally. The state’s apple industry has a workforce of about 10,000. The greatest demand for labor occurs in the late summer through October. More and more, growers are relying on temporary workers from Jamaica and Mexico who enter on H-2A visas, pick apples for a matter of weeks, and then go home. "A stable, legal and reliable workforce is critical if we are to continue to have a vibrant domestic apple industry,” said Cynthia Haskins, president and CEO of the association. “Therefore, passing legislative reforms that address both the current and future flow of workers is the industry’s top priority.” Read the full story in the Times Union.
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