Multiple H-2A regulatory changes and rigid program administration have made use of an already difficult program nearly impossible. A national survey conducted by the National Council of Agricultural Employers of H-2A employers under the current rules showed that administrative delays result in workers arriving on average 22 days after the date of need causing an economic loss of nearly $320 million for farms that hire H-2A workers. Costly recruitment requirements result in less than 5 percent of those referred by the government working the entire contract period.
Agriculture needs a program that functions as efficiently as the current free market movement of migrant farm workers while providing the security of a contractual relationship in areas where there is little migration. Having lost confidence in the H-2A structure as a framework for future success, AWC members are seeking the new approach outlined above to ensure a legal, reliable, long-term workforce for all sectors of the industry.
TK: The Agriculture Workforce Coalition has done everything right so far, and one assumes that behind the scenes work on the proposal is ongoing. Whether the political climate will be tolerable for work on immigration reform is difficult to handicap, but the administration would be well-advised to scrap the gun control debate immediately and focus on immigration reform.