Farm Bureau worried about suspension of farm labor visa processing
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said today that the government’s decision to halt visa processing in Mexico effective Wednesday will endanger the nation’s ability to maintain the food supply.
Noting that the U.S. government has said the United States will suspend routine immigrant and nonimmigrant processing visa services in Mexico beginning March 18, 2020, Duvall said, “The decision to halt visa application processing in Mexico will restrict the number of immigrant workers being allowed to enter the country. Under the new restrictions, American farmers will not have access to all of the skilled immigrant labor needed at a critical time in the planting season. This threatens our ability to put food on Americans’ tables.”
“We fully support the administration’s efforts to protect the public during this health crisis. We are in constant contact with USDA, the State Department and the White House. We have urged them to find safe, practical ways to admit farm laborers as emergency workers for visa purposes while still protecting public health. Failing to do so will impact our ability to provide a healthy, affordable domestic food supply.
“We will remain watchful and vigilant to ensure U.S. agriculture and others in the food supply chain are able to continue feeding America, as we do 365 days a year. We are in close communication with our state Farm Bureaus, Congress and the administration as we all work together to protect our food supply and our communities in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Farm Bureau said that “Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is aware of the issue and has publicly pledged to work with the State Department to ensure needed farm laborers are safely admitted.”
Farm Bureau also noted that, in 2019, 258,000 immigrant workers were approved under the H-2A guest worker program and that immigrant laborers with previous work experience in the U.S. and who do not require in-person interviews will be allowed to return in the H-2A program.
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The House Democatic Caucus on Thursday approved the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee’s recommendation of Rep. David Scott, R-Ga., as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.