Grower Shipper Association of Central California Shares Insight on H2A Program
SALINAS, CA - Labor in the agricultural industry remains a central topic of conversation in California. The New York Times recently published an article regarding the decrease in illegal immigration and how that is impacting the state’s ag workforce. In response, the Grower Shipper Association of Central California (GSA) clarified how the use of the H2A program helps farmers navigate this changing landscape.
As outlined in the article, Illegal Immigration Is Down, Changing the Face of California Farms, an aging population and the lack of younger generations entering the ag workforce have resulted in a labor shortage. As such, employers have turned to the federal H2A guestworker visa program to capture interest and fill available jobs from interested applicants.
As the H2A program requires, the employer first commits to finding available labor domestically, a press release stated. If there is inadequate labor available to grow and harvest the crops, then farm employers can utilize the program.
Under the program, the employer must pay a wage rate that has been established by the United States Department of Labor (DOL), which is applied similarly to domestically employed workers. In California's Salinas Valley, the H2A base wage is higher than the state's minimum wage and therefore establishes a higher minimum base wage that applies to both the H2A guestworker and the local worker.
As employers only employ these workers for a few months, providing housing is a requirement. Other H2A legal requirements include:
- Employee housing must be inspected and meet DOL, state, and local safety standards
- Employers must either provide three meals per day for each employee, or the housing must have kitchen facilities, and employees are given a food allowance
The press release went on to note that other industries also rely on foreign visas, including technology, tourism, construction, manufacturing, and health care.
As the workforce continues to shift in agriculture, AndNowUKnow will keep you informed.