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H2-A program applications will be available online at the end of the year for the convenience of local vegetable and fruit farmers.

H-2A is an agricultural program that allows crop farmers to combat a shortage of domestic workers by bringing in nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor of a temporary nature.

The H-2A program still does not apply to dairy farmers because of the year-round demands. But because of the growing yogurt production in Genesee County, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul has introduced legislation to allow dairy farmers to also participate in H-2A.

“We’re going to capitalize on Alpina being here, and eventually Pepsi’s coming," Hochul said. "In order to meet that new demand, we have to increase output by 15 percent and that’s got to come from having new workers. The farmers are ready, they just need the help.”

 Hochul says that because many local-farm families are smaller and sending their children to college, farms may be left without an adequate workforce.

“In order to keep the family business going and even expanding it, they need more farm workers," Hochul said. "And once the local community has been looked at and they don’t have enough supply, then we need to start opening up new avenues for them.”

 Hochul says utilizing online resources will assist farmers who depend on timely and accurate information to secure a work force.

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