More farm workers now documented under H-2A program

An American Farm Bureau economist says the number of farmworkers in the H-2A guest worker program continues to climb.  Veronica Nigh says, “It looks like 2018 compared to 2017, we’re up twenty-one percent.”

Nigh tells Brownfield that nationwide, H-2A documentation is up over 100% in the last five years.  “More than likely, this increase in H-2A means that we’ve got fewer undocumented workers among the rolls rather than a significant increase in the number of positions.”

Nigh says states like Georgia and California have seen the H-2A workforce jump more than 200% in five years, and Michigan is also showing a big increase.  “The state of Michigan is now the sixth-largest user of H-2A programs.  More than eight thousand positions were certified for farms in the state of Michigan.  When we look back just two years ago in 2016, Michigan didn’t show up on the top ten list at all.”

Nigh doesn’t expect any slowdown in the use of the H-2A program, saying there could be nearly 300-thousand workers using the program next year.  She says these figures don’t cover the many foreign workers in more permanent jobs like food processing and on dairy farms.

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