What is in this article?:
- Government shutdown over, but Florida's fruit, produce harvest still threatened
- Labor applications sat in stacks in Chicago
- The H-2A system is the federal government's guest ag worker program, but growers say it is confusing to navigate with no guarantee that their needs will be met. And the U.S. government's 16-day shutdown made it worse.
- “It will depend on how dedicated the three agencies that are responsible for the program are in ensuring the growers get their workers in a timely manner. As of now, there is nothing to indicate we will be back to normal at all this year.”
WHEN THE U.S. government shut down last month, it threw a wrench into the federal government's already shaky ag guest worker program named H-2A, and that worries Florida fruit and vegetable growers waiting to get labor applications cleared and workers to fields in time to harvest crops.
When the federal government shut down for 16 days, it affected parts of the economy that aren’t as immediately apparent as zoos and national parks.
One of these is the harvesting of Florida produce.
Florida growers and other agricultural employers who cannot find domestic workers to harvest their crops turn to the H-2A visa program to find a legal foreign work force. Growers say the H-2A system is confusing to navigate with no guarantee their needs will be met. The grower may not correctly estimate the number of workers that will be needed to plant and harvest a crop because of unforeseen weather events and other disruptions.
It’s also expensive and time-consuming. But when it works, employers can assume they will have a legal workforce to get their crops to market.
When the government shuts down, it throws a wrench into an already shaky machine. In this case, the wrench was thrown in Chicago.