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U.S. State Department clears the way for agriculture workforce

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The U.S. State Department revised its restrictions on the processing of visa applications submitted by farm workers in Mexico after hearing concerns that the restrictions would lead to a farm worker shortage in the U.S. Consular officers can now waive the visa interview requirement for eligible first-time and returning H-2A and H-2B applicants, making more workers in the H-2 program available while prioritizing public health.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “We applaud the administration for recognizing the contributions H-2A and H-2B workers make on farms across this country to ensure Americans have access to healthy, affordable food. Acknowledging the critical role of immigrant farm laborers by expanding the number eligible for visas protects the public health while ensuring families continue to have access to a stable food source.

“America’s farmers and ranchers are committed to feeding America’s families during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Workers in the H-2A program represent 20% of the country’s farm workforce, so their contributions are necessary as we enter a critical time in the planting season.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “Temporarily waiving in-person interviews for H-2 visa applicants streamlines the application process and helps provide steady labor for the agriculture sector during this time of uncertainty. H-2 labor is vital to the economy and food security of America — our farmers and producers depend on these workers to continue to feed and clothe the world.”

USDA has been directly engaged with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure minimal disruption in H-2A and H-2B visa applications during these uncertain times. This Administration is doing everything possible to maintain continuity of this critically important program. These flexibilities will allow our farmers and ranchers to utilize workers they have used in the past, or those who are already in the U.S., to get our food from the farm to our tables.

Background:

  • On March 18, 2020, the United States suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing services in Mexico.
  • 258,000 H-2A workers were approved to work in the U.S. in 2019.
  • 93 percent of H-2A laborers came from Mexico in 2018
  • USDA asks that questions regarding the H-2A program be directed to here or email [email protected].
Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
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