Farm Bureau, NASDA call for faster farm visa processing
The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture called on the Labor Department, April 21, to speed processing of H2-A visas for foreign farmworkers.
There are farmworker shortages in more than 20 states, and some farmers fear that crops will rot in the field because there are not enough workers to pick them, Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, a Georgia producer, said today.
“Many farmer members have called us and state Farm Bureaus asking for help,” Duvall said. “They face serious hurdles in getting visas for workers in time to tend and harvest this year’s crops. Paperwork delays have created a backlog of 30 days or more in processing H-2A applications at both the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”
Duvall and a group of other farmers and policymakers made his case on a conference call for the media. Also joining him were Gary Black, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture; Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; and farmers from Georgia, California, and Michigan.
“The H-2A program has seen an 85 percent increase in requests over the last five years, with little additional resources allocated,” said Adams. “The Departments of Labor, State and Homeland Security need to better coordinate resources and communication to alleviate these delays and inform growers when their labor is coming.”
–The Hagstrom Report