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New H2-A Rules

Rule #1 with the federal government: If there’s any way to mess something up, there’s a government bureaucrat trying to make that happen. Sadly, our hard-working farmers are the most recent victims of these bureaucrats. Here’s what’s going on…

In the agriculture industry, there’s a Department of Labor program known as H2-A. This program “allows agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.”

That seems reasonable, right? If farmers need extra labor that can’t be found with domestic workers, they should be able to legally bring in foreign workers, on a TEMPORARY or seasonal basis, to perform those jobs. The H2-A program isn’t perfect, but it does serve a good purpose and helps ensure H2-A workers are paid fair wages.

But don’t forget Rule #1 above: if the government can find a way to mess something up, it will.

The Department of Labor has recently issued new rules for the H2-A program that are certain to create an administrative nightmare for farmers. Instead of paying H2-A workers a fair rate for their time, these Dept. of Labor bureaucrats have mandated different pay scales for many different agricultural jobs.

For example, let’s say an H2-A worker is driving a front-loader for a few hours, then packing produce for a few hours, then helping to repair a barn. All in a day’s work. Under these new rules, each of these duties has a different pay rate.

So instead of paying the H2-A worker a fair wage for a day’s labor, that farm owner now has to meticulously keep track of everything each worker does on the farm, figure out the applicable pay rate for each task, all while risking fines from the government for any little miscalculation. The administrative burden being placed on our farmers with this rule is completely unreasonable, especially since there’s no such requirement for domestic workers!

Earlier today in the House, I introduced a Resolution of Disapproval along with Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Glenn "GT" Thompson. We already have over 50 co-sponsors. Meanwhile down the hall, Senator Tim Scott and Senator Ted Budd are leading a companion effort in the Senate.

Our farmers don’t deserve this. They have enough to deal with without the government making things worse.