Agriculture has long served civilizations with food and supplies to sustain life. Like most industries, agriculture endured a significant impact. As it heavily relies on migrant farm workers, employers subsequently rely on H2As. An H-2a is a temporary work visa for foreign-born agriculture workers in the United States. About 20% of U.S. farm workers are H2A workers.
On April 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a temporary final rule regarding the H2A visa, effective through August 18, 2020. The temporary final rule states that:
- H-2A employers who have obtained temporary labor certifications and requested an extension of stay H-2A petitions are able to begin work immediately after the extension of stay petition is received by USCIS.
- H-2A workers are temporarily allowed to stay in the United States past the three-year maximum allowable period of stay.
Other COVID impacts to the agriculture industry include market and farm prices, supply chain lulls and shortages, farmers’ health and workforce, and worker safety and personal protective equipment.
One consideration many people might overlook is the ripple effect lulls to the travel and hospitality industries has had on agriculture. Extreme weather conditions (i.e., hurricanes, tropical storms), trade wars, and decrease demands from food services has significantly impacted the agriculture industry as well. Even driving less has impacted the agriculture industry as the demand for ethanol has dropped.
H-2A employees are protected under federal and state labor laws, experienced agricultural workers who have been in the industry for many years, and dependable. Managing H-2A employees’ unique demands can be a complex task that not all businesses are equipped for, which is where partnering with a trusted PEO can work to your advantage.
Harbor America has served the agriculture industry as an H-2A expert for the past 12 years. We offer payroll, benefits, workers’ compensation, and human resource services to ensure reliable, effective employee management for our agricultural clients’ unique needs. Contact Harbor America to speak with an H-2A specialist and learn how our technology and customer service can support your business in these unprecedented times.