H-2A guest worker visas set another record
Applications for H-2A guest worker visas in the first quarter saw the largest increase ever for the program, up 36 percent from 2016’s record setting year.
Tom Demaline, president of Willoway Nurseries in Avon, Ohio, tells Brownfield they’ve been using the H-2A program for the past 18 years to source about two thirds of their seasonal workforce. “Everybody I talk to, friends from around the industry, are having trouble finding enough labor to fill the positions. Also, our landscape customers are having trouble filling the positions. I would say it’s hindering business, growth and expansion just because there aren’t enough people to put the plants in the ground.”
The Department of Labor reports almost 70,000 applications were approved to fill farm jobs so far this year, with Florida, Georgia and North Carolina making up the top three states. H-2A applicants were most requested to work in berry crops including blueberries and strawberries which require extensive hand labor. Tobacco, lettuce, nursery and greenhouse, and general farm workers rounded out the top five requests in the first quarter.
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