The Citrus Expo saw a general session panel discussion that explored proposed changes to the H-2A Foreign Guest Worker Program.
The H-2A Foreign Guest Worker Program may be seeing some changes for the better, according to Natalie Gupton, the director of business services and industry relations for AgSafe, in a Citrus Industry article summarizing a panel discussion from The Citrus Expo. The event offered the latest on citrus research, policy, and more. She shared that the H-2A program is “a program that’s growing exponentially nationwide. Florida has been a huge user of the program for many years.” The panel included a grower representative, a labor attorney, and a federal Department of Labor (DOL) regional director. Explore the changes below.
Changes to the H-2A Foreign Guest Worker Program
Gupton shared that a notice of proposed rulemaking for the program has been issued, and that they are “nothing too drastic, but then there’s some great changes that could make the program much more user friendly.”
The biggest change that would potentially make the program easier to navigate is the “50 percent rule.” Gupton shared that, “As the rule stands, you have a contract period for your H-2A workers.” For half of that time—or 50 percent—”if a domestic worker shows up and says he wants to work for you, you have to hire (him). And that can be quite cumbersome when you’re in the middle of a harvest season,” she explained.
Additionally, another proposed change will let growers adjust the times when different numbers of H-2A workers are utilized, according to Gupton, “because your needs vary across the growing season.”
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