The following appeared as an op-ed in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus on August 5th, 2017
A bill is quietly wending its way through Congress that would seriously hurt Vermont, our farmers, and the workers who sustain the state’s $1.3 billion dairy industry.
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee recently adopted an amendment to the 2018 homeland security spending bill that would expand H-2A to include dairy farms. Though there are more votes needed before this measure could become law, last week’s committee vote represents a step towards the expansion of this dangerous anti-worker program. The creation of a new legal path for Vermont farms to hire migrant workers may sound like a welcome option, but in fact, passage of the amendment would be a step backwards. It would exclude and displace the women and men currently sustaining Vermont’s dairy farms, rather than grant status to the existing labor force and recognize our farmworker neighbors as equals under the law.