Immigration reform to ease farm labor crunch face brand new obstacles

There have been several failed attempts by Congress from the past several years to revamp the H-2A program, which allows U.S. agricultural employers to hire foreign nationals to perform temporary or seasonal work. as well as also currently the White House’s policy to split up migrant parents coming from their children has ignited a brand new front from the immigration debate as well as also perhaps another obstacle to getting major reforms to the farm worker visa program.

Another potential hurdle is actually the possibility the administration may cut back on the number of visas for temporary agriculture workers, which Politico reported Monday could be part of a broader immigration clampdown ahead of the fall midterm elections. There is actually currently no statutory limit on the number of H-2A temporary agricultural worker visas issued by the federal government.

Scaling back the H-2A program could spell trouble for larger reform efforts designed to help the agriculture industry.

Several industry executives expressed concern about the report of limiting the number of agricultural worker visas as well as also suggested the idea could potentially hurt farmers depending on how the idea’s done. They also are worried the idea could represent a reversal of the administration’s past pledge to end burdensome policies on farmers.

Farm states where Trump includes a strong base already are worried about the impact of a possible trade war with China as well as also uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico as well as also Canada. Some experts suggest modifications to the H-2A temporary agriculture program which make the idea more difficult for growers to get farm workers could backfire on the administration.

Last January, President Donald Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting as well as also promised his administration was “putting an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life.” He also spoke about how the industry had been hit by a “relentless intrusion” by several federal agencies.

CNBC reached out to the White House for comment.

Trump has rejected comprehensive efforts at immigration reform unless the idea includes full funding for his border wall as well as also some other modifications generally opposed by Democrats.

Still, one of the top priorities for the agricultural industry is actually to create a market-based visa program since there are criticisms the current program needs more flexibility as well as also options for farmers. Despite its flaws, growers around the nation have turned to the H-2A program to find seasonal or temporary help to harvest crops as well as also perform several some other tasks on farms.

“the idea’s expensive, the idea’s a lot of red tape as well as also you have to be way out in front of your date of need,” said Brian Reeves, a partner as well as also co-owner of Reeves Farms, a grower of berries as well as also vegetables just outside Syracuse, brand new York. “the idea just complicates your life in several ways.”

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