The H-2A temporary worker program has been a controversial issue that Congress spent a lot of time on last year. Finally in December new regulations for the program were developed and went into effect on Jan. 17. Now the Department of Labor wants to suspend some of those new regulations, a move that the American Farm Bureau Federation strongly disagrees with.
"The H-2A rules that the Labor Department wants to put on hold made several improvements in the program. Farm Bureau is disappointed that the department wants to suspend these rules that allow U.S. agriculture to legally hire much-needed temporary workers," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "The existing regulations that DOL proposes suspending for nine months cut red tape and make it easier to hire temporary workers.”
In a letter to administrator of the DOL's Office of Policy Development and Research Employment and Training Administration, Thomas Dowd, Farm Bureau said the proposal would harm many farmers and cause confusion for many who have already begun planning for this year with the new provisions. Also, the lack of time for public comment following the publication of the proposed suspension in the Federal Register on Mar. 17 was questioned. According to Stallman, opposition to the proposal has been unanimous among growers they have talked to.
"Doing away with this rule will clearly hurt a farmer’s bottom line during extremely difficult economic times," Stallman said.
To read a copy of the letter sent to Dowd, click HERE.