Changes proposed for a program that provides migrant labor for farmers

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GLENNVILLE, Ga. (WSAV) – Changes are potentially in the works for a program that helps provide legal migrant labor for farmers.

The Department of Labor recently announced proposed changes to the H-2A work visa program. The program allows farmers to bring in migrant workers from other countries, but to do this, farmers first must prove they can’t find enough local help.

The changes are something Troy Bland with the Vidalia Business Council has been advocating for, for years. Bland says the change would make it easier for farm owners to get hired help from foreign countries more quickly and efficiently.

“By having a more streamlined process of getting workers here, from Mexico to here, to be able to work when that crop is ready when we’re willing to go, really helps us,” Bland said.

Bland said this streamlined process is necessary. He said in the agriculture business nothing is ever certain, and the way the program is set up right now puts some farmers especially the small ones at a disadvantage.

” There were people that had trouble getting their people this year in Vialdia City. They were a couple of weeks late….Anytime that you have a hiccup on the front end that just increases the time that those onions are going to stay in the field.”

Bland said he hopes if or when the labor department updates the program there will be safeguards in place.

“We want to make sure we’re getting the right people to come up here and work. at the same time, we don’t want to allow a loophole to someone to get into this country that’s not supposed to be here.”

The labor department will be taking comments from the public on the new H-2A proposal. We’ll let you know when it does.

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