As labor markets tighten and in the absence of legislative reform, farmers, landscapers and ag processors are forced to look to existing federal visa programs as an alternative source of labor.
H-2A is one alternative for farmers seeking seasonal employees. Currently over 750,000 workers come to the U.S. every year on the program – a dramatic increase over the last decade. Farmers must provide transportation to and from the home country, provide housing and pay additional administrative and transportation costs. H-2A lacks a solution for year-round positions, like those on dairy and livestock farms.
H-2B is available for agricultural processing, landscaping and hospitality jobs. It currently has a cap of 66,000 visas per year, but occasionally the federal government will allow for more or returning visas on a year-to-year basis. Even so, the need far exceeds the available positions.
In recent years, Farm Bureau has worked with elected officials and the federal government to help modernize and streamline the H2-A application process, but more reforms are needed. State agencies and the federal departments of Homeland Security, State and Labor all play a part and even small changes need to go through multiple steps for approval.
Contact: Craig Anderson | (517) 331-8604
AFBF Policy #136 General Labor Issues
AFBF Policy #137 Immigration