U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue praised proposed rulemaking by the Department of Labor, which could help farmers advertise job openings to domestic workers as required under the H-2A visa program. The DOL rulemaking would require that employers seeking to hire temporary workers post the employment opportunities online, rather than in expensive newspapers advertisements reaching a limited audience. This is an early step in H-2A regulatory reforms as promised in May in a joint statement of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Labor, State, and Homeland Security.
Perdue said, “When I travel around the country, one of the biggest concerns farmers raise is the shortage of legal farm labor. Our farmers and ranchers are the most productive in the world, and they want to obey immigration law. Where American workers are not available, farmers turn to the H-2A program that is overly bureaucratic and cost prohibitive. Using regulations like this is one way to modernize H-2A to reach more American workers, while providing relief to farmers from one of the high costs of the program. It’s good to see the federal government using 21st Century technology, rather than being limited to placing notices in the want ads.
“H-2A reforms can chip around the edges of the labor shortage problem, but it will take action from Congress to address it fully. I applaud Secretary Acosta and urge members of Congress to redouble their efforts to help our farmers find the workers they need to continue to feed, fuel, and clothe the United States and the world.”
The joint statement in May pushed for ease of labor employment. “The Trump Administration is committed to modernizing the H-2A visa program rules in a way that is responsive to stakeholder concerns and that deepens our confidence in the program as a source of legal and verified labor for agriculture – while also reinforcing the program’s strong employment and wage protections for the American workforce. In addition, by improving the H-2A visa program and substantially reducing its complexity, the Administration also plans to incentivize farmers’ use of the E-Verify program to ensure their workforce is authorized to work in the United States.”