South African farm, food labor exempt from travel ban |

South African farm, food labor exempt from travel ban

The State Department said late last week that South African farm and food processing workers entering the United States qualify for national interest exceptions on a case-by-case basis, despite the anniouncement last week of a ban on noncitizens entering the United States from South Africa due to COVID-19 concerns.

“H-2A and H-2B applicants covered by the Jan. 25, 2021, Presidential Proclamation who are necessary to ensure food supply chains, such as seafood processors, fish cutters, salmon roe technicians, farm equipment mechanics, agriculture equipment operators etc., may be considered for a national interest exception to travel,” the State Department bulletin said.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, who had sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske a farm labor exemption request, said “We appreciate the swift action by the State Department to address a critical need for American agriculture.”

“Farm workers from South Africa bring valuable and unique skills to the farms on which they are employed. America’s farmers rely on the H-2A program to provide a robust workforce and we are committed to ensuring their safety while continuing to provide healthy, affordable food for families across the country.”

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