The Labor Department this week proposed to streamline the federal guest worker program commonly known as H-2A. The American Farm Bureau Federation is evaluating the near 500-page proposal and will provide input on behalf of farmers. Allison Crittenden, AFBF congressional relations director, says farmers and ranchers need a better guest worker program.
“A lot of farmers are forced to use the H-2A program to obtain the labor they need to get the job done on the farm. But the real problem is that the H-2A program is incredibly complex to use and it’s also very expensive. So a solution is needed to help streamline the program and make it a little more user-friendly.”
She says the proposed rule will modernize the program to fit the needs of farmers and ranchers in 2019.
“The proposed rule also allows farmers flexibility around worker arrival to adjust with the needs of seasonality and perishable crops and weather patterns, as well looking at a AEWR methodology change that will disaggregate the AEWR by occupation and will ensure that folks are getting paid a wage that corresponds to the type of work that they’re doing.”
Crittenden calls the proposal a positive step forward.
“It appears that the administration has taken the concerns of stakeholders in the ag industry to heart and has produced a proposed rule that they hope will address a lot of the issues that farmers and ranchers are facing in getting their labor. Next steps are to have folks engaged in the comment process as the Department of Labor and the rest of the administration works to put together a final rule.”