Cancel OK

H-2A upgrade met with industry support

Workers harvest artichokes at Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, CA.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s proposal to modernize the H-2A program has the support of at least one fresh produce industry organization.

The rule would streamline the application process, strengthen worker protections and incorporate more digital filing.

Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue said in an official statement, “The proposed rule will increase access to a reliable legal agricultural workforce, easing unnecessary burdens on farmers, increase enforcement against fraud and abuse, all while maintaining protections for America’s workers. When this rule goes into effect, our farmers will be released from unnecessary and burdensome regulations allowing them to do what they do best.”

The United Fresh Produce Association BB #:145458 issued its support July 16.

It said United Fresh “appreciates the Administration’s efforts to make regulatory changes that can improve efficiencies in the H-2A program. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking includes a number of changes to the H-2A program that were supported by United Fresh and our members. We encourage the Administration to finalize these new productive H-2A reforms after the notice and comment period has ended. In particular, United Fresh is pleased with the electronic filing and digital signature proposal along with staggering entry of H-2A workers on a single application.”

“Despite these improvements, we all understand a complete overhaul of the current guest worker program is needed which will require Congress to make those changes through legislation. In addition, we must find a solution to the current workforce which will work hand in hand with an improved H-2A program. We implore Congress and all interested stakeholders to stay at the table and continue to find a legislative path forward for this type of reform. United Fresh and our members stand ready to continue these discussions and will work with our members across the country to support legislation that accomplishes these goals.”

The 489-page proposal may be accessed here.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services