Ag Policy Blog

H-2A Visa Extension as Demand Remains Strong for Guest Workers

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
The third quarter of 2020, running from April 1 to June was a record for the number of H-2A positions filled at 86,366, up 4% from the same period in 2019. The growth has slowed over the past two years after demand from employers jumped 29% in 2018. (Graphic from American Farm Bureau Federation)

The Trump administration said this week it will continue to let foreign farm workers extend their H-2A temporary work visas to immediately begin work with new employers in an effort to protect U.S. food suppliers during the coronavirus pandemic, Law360 reported.

The rules will be effective through August 2023, and foreign farm workers have until December 17 to apply for an H-2A visa extension that will be good for three years, according to a Federal Register notice.

This week the Department of Labor released a quarterly update of H-2A applications and positions filled. Year-to-date, despite COVID-19, the Department of Labor has received 12,351 requests from employers and filled 224,290 positions. Florida, Washington State, Georgia, California and North Carolina account for roughly 52% of all positions filled.

About 197,600 of the positions filled this year have bene for farm workers and laborers, and another 12,200 are for equipment operators.

The American Farm Bureau Federation completed an analysis of the quarterly numbers this week noting that some of the various challenges with COVID-19 have not slowed demand for the program or positions filled. Earlier this year, when the State Department closed embassies, officials immediately allowed the consulate office in Monterrey, Mexico, to continue processing H-2A visas.

So even with the pandemic, AFBF notes the number of guest workers brought in during the third quarter was 4% higher than the same period a year ago.…

Details on visa extension:…

USDA Website for Regional Food Hubs

The Agriculture Department's Agricultural Marketing Service this week announced the launch of a website to develop and share resources on local and regional food system responses to COVID-19.

The Local Food System Response to COVID resource hub was created through USDA's cooperative agreement with the University of Kentucky, Colorado State University and Pennsylvania State University.

Local Food Systems Response to COVID…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport


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