Perdue, Loeffler Seek H-2A Flexibility During COVID-19 Crisis

Temporary Agriculture Workers Critical To Food Security

ATLANTA, GA – U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) are leading an effort to ensure farmers have the workers they need to continue planting and harvesting operations during the COVID-19 crisis.

In a letter to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, Perdue and Loeffler, along with 12 Senate colleagues, underscored the need for flexibility in the H-2A program in order to maintain an abundant food supply in the United States.

“Our nation is working around the clock to address the COVID-19 crisis, and our farmers are on the front lines of our country’s response,” wrote the Senators. “We must ensure that our farmers can continue to rely on the H-2A program during this time.”

“Your agencies have equities in the functioning of our nation’s immigration system, and we urge you to adopt flexibilities that will protect our country’s food supply as you administer the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program during this crisis,” continued the Senators.

Specifically, the Senators asked the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement guidance that will:

  1. Allow approved H-2A workers at the end of a contract period to extend their contracts if they are impacted by travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. government or by the government of their country of origin
  2. Increase the maximum length of time for H-2A visas holders to stay in the United States to mitigate the effects of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services service center closures during the COVID-19 crisis
  3. Allow H-2A employers to share available workers among farms until the federal government is able to resume normal operations

In addition to Perdue and Loeffler, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), James Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Read the full letter here.