More H-2A Fees Pt 3

More H-2A Fees Pt 3

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today's Fruit Grower Report, I'm Bob Larson. If a Senate Bill that's currently making its way through committees becomes law, growers who hire H-2A foreign guestworkers will likely be paying even more for the federal program.

Washington Tree Fruit Association president Jon DeVaney says government dollars have not increased as usage of the program has grown ...

Devaney ... "Unlike a lot of state programs where fees are collected and directly held in an account to support the operations of a program, when an employer applies to use the H-2A program the dollars go into the general federal treasury and then the dollars are appropriated by Congress to operate the program. So, they're not directly linked and that's been the problem."

DeVaney says many growers feel like it's piling on ...

Devaney ... "They say, I'm already dealing with a labor shortage, I already pay an above prevailing wage rate, and provide free housing and transportation to participate in the H-2A program. So, it's already very costly to use that program to meet an unmet labor need and now the state's going to ask me to pay a second time to participate in the same program to make sure that the dollars that are not coming from the federal government to the state for its role in the program aren't filled."

So, if you don't want to pay twice for the same program? ...

Devaney ... "Anyone who's concerned about these issues should stay in touch with the Tree Fruit Association and other agricultural groups that they may be part of because we send out regular updates on these and give people warning when there's opportunities to testify or contact their legislators on these issues."

Washington farmers are expected to hire about 30,000 H-2A workers this year, nearly 6,000 more than last year.

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