Ag groups urge Secretary of State to speed H-2A approvals
Ag groups are calling on US Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo to ensure the food supply chain has the foreign workers it needs to keep up with demand.
Groups in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition wrote a letter to Pompeo expressing deep concern about the department’s decision to suspend regular visa processing, including the H-2A worker program, at all US consulates in Mexico in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While recognizing the administration will prioritize interview waiver cases, the groups write that those workers only make up a portion of what is needed. Therefore, they urge Pompeo to recognize all H-2A and other non-immigrant visa petitions involving an agriculture worker as “essential” and direct the US consulates to treat all ag worker appointments as emergency visa services.
In a conference call Wednesday, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall told reporters an ag labor shortage during the pandemic will have long-term effects.
“This is one problem we have got to fix or four to six months down the road everyone will feel the effects of what could happen if we don’t get the workers here to get it done.”
The letter reminds Secretary Pompeo that the Food and Agriculture Sector is designated a “critical infrastructure sector” by the Department of Homeland Security, meaning “incapacitation or destruction” of the food supply chain would have major effects on national economic security and national public health and safety.