Oct 1, 2019
National Potato Council urges H-2A labor reform, shipping flexibility

The National Potato Council (NPC) filed comments with the Department of Labor (DOL) on enhancements to the H-2A Agricultural Guest Worker Program. The DOL had asked for comments on a variety of changes to the program that are intended to improve its efficiency.

“Given recent growth in the use of H-2A overall, there is clearly a need for an efficient responsive agricultural guest worker program, as domestic farm labor is in extremely short supply or non-existent,” National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles said in a statement. “While we appreciate the intent of the H-2A program in stabilizing the U.S. agricultural workforce, we feel that there are significant improvements that can be made to enhance its efficiency.”

NPC recommended improvements to the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) calculation, Area of Intended Employment limitations, supports staggered entry for visa holders, increased flexibility for harvest-related trucking activities, use of electronic signatures, electronic posting of job notices and a variety of other improvements.

NPC asks for HOS agriculture flexibility

In addition, the NPC filed comments with the Department of Transportation that seeks to provide flexibility for agricultural commodities under the Hours-of-Service motor carrier rule. This federal regulation governs the number of hours that truckers can operate, the method of recording such hours and various exemptions, including for agriculture.

NPC’s comments seek to clarify the definition under which the agriculture exemption can be applied.

“We believe that any regulation that is put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should extend the definition of an agricultural commodity covered under this regulation to fresh produce, including frozen or fresh cut produce,” Quarles said. “Any delay, including transport, of such products results in the loss of quality and safety for the consumer within the supply chain.”

MORE: Packing shed efficiency key part of potato industry supply chain

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