Vaccine mandates likely to tie up H-2A worker arrivals

American Farm Bureau and others are concerned about how COVID-19 vaccine mandates will impact the arrival of H-2A workers.

The Department of Homeland Security at the end of January announced it will begin enforcing vaccine requirements for noncitizens entering the U.S. including essential workers like those in the H-2A program.

Farm Bureau says the department failed to provide proper notice and the announcement leaves farmers and ag suppliers with no time to prepare.

Sarah Black, general manager of Great Lakes Ag Labor Services, an ag labor agency for Michigan Farm Bureau, tells Brownfield employers with H-2A workers approved and in route to the U.S. could face substantial delays as employees might already have received a non-FDA approved vaccine or are unable to access a vaccine in their home country.

“The vaccines that are on that approved list aren’t that readily available like they are here,” she says.

Black says the Department of Homeland Security needs to work with partners for a practical solution.

“We’ve already got a supply chain issue, and this is going to exasperate it even more,” she says.

A large portion of H-2A workers arrive between January and March which Black says could cause widespread issues for greenhouses, fruit and vegetable growers, and others with time-sensitive needs.

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