Visa Troubles & More Disaster Counties
California, Oregon and Washington are dealing with a labor shortage. Ag producers are waiting for the Department of State to resolve a computer issue in order to print out visas. Congressman Dan Newhouse has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on plans to provide emergency relief and steps being taken to fix the technical issues. Washington Farm Labor Associations, Dan Fazio says they need to be able to count on the system.
FAZIO: We are hoping to have it resolved by this week but as of right now we don't have any estimated time that this situation is going to be completed. These are just in time visas. They're supposed to be issued when they're needed and I don't know that we can rely on that.
Newhouse commented that what he felt was most disturbing was that this is not the first time a technical issue has halted the ability of consulates to be able to issue H2A visas.
USDA has designated Gooding, Jerome and Lincoln counties in Idaho as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by a recent drought. Farmers and ranchers in the three counties and another six contiguous counties in Idaho also qualify for natural disaster assistance.. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.
That's today's Northwest Report. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network of the West.