Farm Groups to Evaluate H-2A Proposal

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced changes to its H2-A guest worker program designed to streamline the H-2A application process, strengthen protections for workers, expand enforcement tools, and update methods used to determine the Adverse Effect Wage Rates and prevailing wages. The proposal also expands the program to include employers engaged in reforestation and pine straw activities.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the proposal will release farmers from “unnecessary and burdensome regulations.” The proposal comes as Republican Representative Rick Crawford of Arkansas recently introduced legislation to make similar changes to the program, along with moving authority of H-2A to the Department of Agriculture.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall welcomed the proposal, thanking the Trump administration for “recognizing the need to reform” the program. However, noting the rule is lengthy, Duvall says AFBF will “evaluate it closely for its potential to assist growers with their labor needs.” A comment period on the nearly 500-page proposal will close in September. The proposal claims to streamline the H-2A application process, strengthen protections for workers, expand enforcement tools, and update methods used to determine the Adverse Effect Wage Rates and prevailing wages. The proposal also expands the program to include employers engaged in reforestation and pine straw activities.