H-2A Complicated but Necessary Program

Clint Thompson Labor

Alabama to Host Pair of Meetings for Specialty Crop Producers

By Clint Thompson

The H-2A program is a complicated process for the most experienced agricultural employer. It can be intimidating for those beginning users just learning how to use the program.

Adam Rabinowitz, Alabama Extension economist, is helping lead a pair of meetings on Nov. 2 at Jefferson State Community College in Clanton, Alabama, and on Nov. 7 at the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries auditorium in Montgomery, Alabama that will educate farmers about the basics of the program.

Adam Rabinowitz

“We know that it can be a daunting task to work through the H-2A program and look at the regulations and everything. We also know that the labor needs for specialty crop growers, fruit and vegetable growers, is substantial. The H-2A program can provide them the opportunity to get the labor they need when they need it,” Rabinowitz said. “We’re just trying to de-mystify some of the environment around H-2A regulations and get that education out. What is it? How do you go about it? What other experiences have been with other growers? Where can they look to for help?”

The Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL), the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) are hosting the two sessions.

What is H-2A?

The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. Farmers need to be mindful of the stipulations that are present in an H-2A contract that they would be responsible for.

“You really do need to be aware of what the language is. I know there are some current regulations that are changing in that area. Certainly, being aware of what those are is important. Making sure that you’re up to speed on the process to hire, what the pay needs to be, what the benefits need to be in terms of what needs to be provided and that includes the availability of certain facilities,” Rabinowitz said.

“It’s certainly something to take seriously. They’re not going to know when somebody’s coming to inspect or check on them. They’ve got to make sure that not just the house is in order in terms of everything physically but also the paperwork; everything is kept up to date and they have everything that they need to. There are a lot of consultants that specialize, specifically in this process. For some, that could be the best route. They can help you navigate that program.”

For more information, contact Adam Rabinowitz at adam.rabinowitz@auburn.edu or (334) 844-5620.
Funding for the workshops is provided by USDA-AMS through the specialty crop block grant program.