Upton Urges Biden Administration to Quickly Process Work Visas Amid Farm Labor Shortages
Bipartisan letter requests that H-2A visa restrictions be eased in the coming months to support Michigan farms
Saint Joseph, December 22, 2021 | Billy Fuerst (202-225-3761)
SAINT JOSEPH, MI – Today, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, helped lead a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas requesting that, with proper health and safety precautions in place, H-2A farm workers from South Africa be allowed to temporarily travel to the United States to supplement labor shortages on American farms.
“Due to ongoing workforce shortages our country continues to face, American farmers continue to utilize the H-2A guestworker visa program to fill vacant farm positions,” the lawmakers wrote. “The most recent available data indicates that approximately 7,000 of these valued essential workers originate from South Africa. Many American farmers are counting on their timely arrivals to the U.S. this upcoming February, March, and April, as they make plans for their important upcoming growing seasons. Without an exemption to the recently imposed travel restrictions, South African H-2A worker absences will limit the ability of American farms to continue production of food, fuel, and fiber for our nation during this critical time, especially amidst the severe supply chain disruptions currently taking place.”
Michigan farmers remain committed to producing healthy and affordable food for our customers, and like many industries, workforce shortages continue to be a challenge,” said John Kran, National Legislative Counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau. “The H-2A guestworker visa program is one way many Michigan farmers are bringing in temporary workers to help fill the need and help sustain jobs on our farms and rural communities. Michigan Farm Bureau applauds the work of Congressman Fred Upton and his colleagues for continuing to keep ag labor in front of the Biden Administration.”
Upton has long supported H-2A visas and their vital importance to the agricultural community in Southwest Michigan and nationwide. Earlier this year, Upton helped introduce and voted for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide agricultural workers with the opportunity to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment. It would also establish a mandatory E-Verify for the agricultural industry.
Throughout his congressional tenure, Upton has maintained a 100% voting record with the American Farm Bureau.
This bipartisan effort is supported by the American Farm Bureau, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Processing Apple Growers, Michigan Processing Asparagus Growers, Potato Growers of Michigan, and 60 additional agricultural organizations.
You can read the full letter HERE.