MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy has introduced legislation that would allow dairy farmers to use a visa program to hire seasonal foreign workers.

The dairy industry currently is excluded from hiring seasonal foreign workers through the H-2A program due to the year-round nature of dairy farming.

Leahy, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the legislation, co-sponsored by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, will allow dairy workers and sheep and goat herders to remain in the U.S. for three years. After the first three-year period, a worker may apply to become a U.S. resident.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.