On March 27, Senator Jen Metzger, D-Rosendale, introduced a bill (S.8134) to connect New York job-seekers to food production farms in need of employees via an online portal.
Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted New York state on “PAUSE,” thousands of New Yorkers have lost their jobs – leaving many to seek unemployment benefits or to temporarily remain unemployed.
Under Metzger’s bill, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets would create a virtual farm employment portal with the Department of Labor to post available jobs to the public.
“People who have been laid off from their jobs in other sectors, and college students who have returned home earlier than expected, may welcome the opportunity to work on a farm,” Metzger said.
New York farmers have voiced concerns for workers who have expiring visas due to disruptions in the Federal H-2A Visa Program Guest Worker Program, a system that distributes visas to immigrants who are interested in working on farms. Globally, some national embassies have closed, leaving room for concern. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City will “suspend routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa services starting March 18, 2020, and until further notice.”
“Things are uncertain for everyone right now, in and out of agriculture, and an employment portal proposed by Senator Metzger could be a useful tool to link farms with prospective employees looking for work, especially in times of need,” New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said. “It is essential that our farms continue to operate for the good of us all.”
The bill is currently in the Senate Agriculture Committee.