May 19, 2022
H-2A temporary ag worker demand surges
Recently released data from the U.S. Department of Labor reflects surging demand for temporary agricultural employees under the H-2A program.
DOL data for the first two quarters of Fiscal Year 2022 indicate that program applications increased 17.5% over the previous Fiscal Year. At the same time, the total number of jobs certified by DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification for the same period jumped 16.5% to 193,273, for the first two quarters.
“Similar to other sectors of the U.S. economy, agricultural employers face an exceptional shortage of workers as America recovers from the pandemic,” said Michael Marsh, president and CEO of NCAE. “Farm and ranch families need help filling these good paying temporary jobs that, on average, pay more than twice the federal minimum wage. Although employers advertise and recruit heavily to attract U.S. workers into these positions, the dwindling number of domestic applicants for these temporary positions has led to explosive growth in the number of temporary foreign workers needed to plant, nurture, and harvest food for our nation.”
Last fiscal year, more than 258,000 temporary foreign workers received H-2A visas to fill the more than 317,000 farm and ranch jobs for which no qualified, willing, and available domestic workers could be recruited. This was an increase of approximately 21% in the number of temporary foreign workers employed in the prior fiscal year in 2020.
“Despite the significant added costs and regulations ag employers must face if they participate in the program, farm and ranch employers find themselves increasingly having to turn to filling some of the 2.4 million hired U.S. agricultural jobs reported by the USDA with temporary workers coming from outside our borders,” said Marsh. “This is a national security issue because a nation unable to feed and clothe itself is not secure.”
NCAE is the national trade association focusing on agricultural labor issues from the employer’s viewpoint.