Sep 22, 2022USDA seeks input on new farm labor shortage pilot program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a new grant program it says will address labor shortages in agriculture, reduce irregular migration through increased use of legal pathways and improve labor protections for farmworkers.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will have three virtual listening sessions on Sept. 28-29 for the new farm labor stabilization and protection pilot grant program, announced earlier this year as part of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection.
The grant program will use up to $65 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide support for agricultural employers in implementing labor standards to promote a safe, healthy work environment for U.S. workers and workers hired from northern Central American countries under the seasonal H-2A visa program.
The program aims to improve the resiliency of the food and agricultural supply chain and advance several administration priorities:
- Driving U.S. economic recovery and safeguarding domestic food security by addressing labor shortages in agriculture. This pilot program will help address this shortage by expanding the potential pool of workers.
- Reducing irregular migration through the increased use of legal pathways, including H-2A. This pilot program aims to address challenges that workers and employers face in using the program.
- Improving working conditions for farmworkers. Through this pilot program, USDA will support efforts to improve working conditions for both U.S. and H-2A workers and ensure that H-2A workers are not subjected to unfair recruitment practices.
Agricultural Employer Organizations
FSA will have a listening session for agricultural employer organizations at 11 a.m. ET Sept. 28 for input on:
- Challenges that employers face in securing a stable workforce.
- Incentives employers seek from USDA to improve their ability to hire workers from northern Central American countries under the seasonal H-2A visa program.
- Labor standards that will make meaningful progress towards ensuring a safer and fairer working environment for domestic and H-2A farmworkers.
Labor unions and farmworker advocacy community
FSA will have a listening session for labor unions at 2 p.m. ET Sept. 28, and the broader farmworker advocacy community at 2 p.m. ET Sept. 29.
From both groups, FSA seeks input on:
- Barriers or challenges faced by farmworkers, specifically those from northern Central American countries participating in the H-2A visa program.
- Recommendations to enhance farmworker protections and to increase farmworker awareness of resources and worker rights.
How to attend
Register online at fsa.usda.gov/farmworkers. FSA will also consider comments received by 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. Find more details in the Sept. 21 notice on the Federal Register or on fsa.usda.gov/farmworkers.