August 02, 2019 – The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) supports the proposed rule changes to improve the H-2A temporary agricultural labor certification program. Publication of the proposed changes were published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division July 15 with an invitation for the public to comment by Sept. 24.
Groups representing growers and other sectors of the produce industry, including Western Growers and United Fresh, say the proposed rules would streamline and simplify the process growers use to bring foreign, seasonal workers into the United States for the sole purpose of providing farm labor not available domestically. Provisions include mandatory electronic filing of job orders and applications, permitting some post-certification modifications, allowing staggered entry of H2A workers, updates to how the Adverse Effect Wage Rate is determined, employer use of electronic domestic help-wanted advertising and other provisions.
Last May 15, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited with Colorado produce growers at Sakata Farms, Brighton, Colo. The number one challenge noted in the roundtable meeting was securing qualified, legal labor for Colorado’s relatively short growing and harvest season.
“This meeting was a good opportunity to discuss in detail the acute labor problems facing growers, and we were especially forceful about the changes needed to the H2A guest worker program to make the paperwork less burdensome and the program more flexible,” said Robert Sakata, CFVGA president. “We really appreciate Sec. Perdue listening to us and doing what he is able given the current legislation to make H-2A a more useable program for growers.”
Sakata further noted that the proposed rule changes do not address all issues and that the changes could be reversed if a new administration does not like them. He said, “CFVGA is urging Congress to pass legislation that fixes the currently broken seasonal guest worker program or we will continue to see more Colorado growers go out of business.”
The CFVGA is comprised of more than 250 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $485 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 90,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.