Dear Congressional Staff:
I apologize for what might seem to be a form message to you all, but I wanted to reach out to you as soon as I could today to talk about Agricultural Labor in New York State, and the increasing labor shortages that we are experiencing.
Although I am confident that this is a priority in your office, I am not confident that it has the same urgency throughout the rest of Congress.
I find it most ironic that as our president is travelling around the country selling his jobs bill, here in New York State we cannot find the workers to harvest our crop. I understand that today (October 11), the Senate will take up the jobs bill. It is for that reason that I contact you.
Although we are picking apples each day in New York State, we are not picking them fast enough because of the labor shortage. Each day we dig a deeper hole, putting us behind. Last weekend was stellar harvest weather, but cold, wet weather is only a few hours away, and because of the labor shortage, we will fall even farther behind.
Some small-to-medium-sized growers are estimating that they are loosing upwards of $2,000 per day because of fruit drop and loss of fruit condition. With only three or so weeks of harvest to go, those losses will only increase. Larger growers will have much greater losses.
As our senators address the jobs bill, we hope that they will also address the critical agricultural worker shortage that is spreading across the country, costing American farmers billions of dollars, which will eventually cost American consumers much more.
All of you are fully aware of why this is happening, as you have all been entrenched working on everything from Ag-Jobs, Dream Acts, H-2A reform, ICE, DHS, DOL, JCLO, Department of State Rules, Bush H-2A Rules, Obama H-2A Rules, comprehensive immigration reform or lack of, and most recently E-Verify! With all that said, farm labor jobs are not being filled right now.
We appreciate your efforts over the years addressing these problems, and we understand that this problem reaches way beyond our state borders, and that the issue is far greater than just harvesting apples, but right now and right here, it is most critical to us!
Thank you for your continued support.