Following the latest wave of delays earlier this year in the processing of applications for workers in the federal agriculture guestworker program, known as H-2A, United Fresh has joined forces with industry counterparts to request that Congress engage with the Department of Labor, which has jurisdiction over the program, to ensure applications are processed expeditiously.
In response to appeals by United Fresh and other organizations, Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), Rep. Suzan Delbene (D-WA-01), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02), sent a letter during the week of May 23 to their colleagues in the House of Representatives requesting they sign on to a letter to the Secretary of Labor and the Administrator of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding the slowdowns in processing H-2A applications and requesting common-sense improvements to the program. The letter will be sent to the agencies shortly after Memorial Day. United Fresh will continue to work with industry colleagues and policymakers for solutions to ease processing backlogs and to help growers get the skilled workers they need in a timely manner.
Complications for growers and loss of productivity due to H-2A processing delays was also a problem highlighted in testimony by vegetable grower and United Fresh member Maureen Torrey with Torrey Farms of Elba, NY to the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee in April. The Committee was examining factors that affect the cost of production as preparation for the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill.