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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

AFBF Urges Waivers for H-2A Workers from South Africa


The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and sixty other agricultural groups are urging the Administration to grant exemptions for H-2A farm workers from South Africa.  COVID restrictions placed a hold on approximately 7,000 workers.  Given the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID in the U.S. with confirmation of its presence in more than 35 states and with 75 percent of new cases due to this variant, there appears little danger in bringing in vaccinated and tested workers from South Africa for work on fruit and produce farms.


The need to introduce temporary workers from the Republic of South Africa and elsewhere denotes the non-availability or disinclination of U.S. citizens to undertake agricultural labor. Relocation westward from the dustbowl in the early1930s to Pacific states supported displaced farmers and contributed to the growth of food production in California, Oregon and Washington. Have we progressed too far from the principle that unemployed people follow opportunities or have our social support programs created a class of “comfortable limpets”? In the immediate term the problem of farm labor will require collaboration between the Departments of State, Homeland Security and Agriculture and will necessitate an overhaul of immigration legislation that is long overdue. It is evident that higher levels of mechanization will be necessary to reduce labor input in food production with both higher wage rates and capital investment passed on to consumers. 

Copyright © 2023 Simon M. Shane