Requests 60 Days for Farmer & Ranchers to Assess Proposed H-2A Changes
Nov 03 2023
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, joined Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) in leading a bipartisan group of senators calling for additional time for farmers and ranchers to review and comment on significant reforms to the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program.
In letters to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, the senators request a 60-day public comment extension for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed rulemaking, “Modernizing H-2 Program Requirements, Oversight, and Worker Protections, 88 FR 65040,” and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed rulemaking, “Improving Protections for Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States, 88 FR 63750.”
“The United States takes pride in producing the world’s safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply. Our nation’s ability to do so is entirely contingent on the strength of our agricultural workforce. The H-2A program provides a critical labor pool without which many producers in our states would struggle or be entirely unable to operate,” the senators wrote.
“Any proposed regulatory changes to the H-2A program have potential ramifications for the entire American agricultural supply chain and food security. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that our constituents be provided adequate time to thoroughly analyze this proposed rule and its effects on their operations. Moreover, this comment period is occurring while many producers in our states will be occupied with fall harvest and unable to dedicate time to developing meaningful comments,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letters were also signed by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), James Risch (R-ID), John Hoeven (R-ND), Tim Scott (R-SC), Angus King, Jr. (I-ME), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Ted Budd (R-NC), Katie Britt (R-AL) and Pete Ricketts (R-NE).
The request was prompted by farmers, ranchers and other agricultural stakeholders who are increasingly concerned that DHS and DOL will finalize the rules before they can fully assess and comment on the new federal mandates on agricultural employers. Senators noted that four other regulatory actions of interest to these stakeholders have comment periods ending at the same time.
The Agriculture Workforce Coalition sent similar letters to the departments. The coalition is comprised of agriculture organizations from across the country including the American Farm Bureau Federation, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas Rice Federation, USA Rice, U.S. Rice Producers Association, National Council of Agricultural Employers and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.