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The Rural Blog: U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says farmworker visa program to be overhauled

The departments of Labor, Agriculture, State and Homeland Security will modernize the H-2A visa program that brings in foreign farmworkers, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said recently.

Farmers have been struggling to find enough workers since the Trump administration cracked down on illegal immigration; more than 55 percent of California farmers surveyed in March said half their land is going untended because of the shortage, Kartikay Mehrotra reports for Bloomberg.

Perdue said the H-2A overhaul is meant to streamline the process and make it easier for farmers to find legal immigrant labor while safeguarding employment and wage protections for American citizens.

Reducing the program’s complexity will hopefully give farmers more incentive to use the E-Verify program, he said.

However, it’s unclear exactly how the administration plans to execute the update. “The announcement comes as the House of Representatives is planning to vote on possibly multiple immigration bills in June,” Jerry Hagstrom and Chris Clayton report for DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

“One bill, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., strengthens immigration enforcement but also overhauls the H-2A program, including moving it from the Department of Labor to USDA.”

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