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H-2A visa issues a factor in reduction of U.S. produce production

Several of our recent posts have focused on employee immigration with respect to employers in the high-tech sector. This is not the only field in which immigrant workers are needed, however. Immigrant workers are a vital piece of the production of produce in the United States as well. According to a recent report, issues with securing that labor has contributed to a decrease in the amount of vegetables and fruit grown and harvested in the U.S.

Requested by The Partnership for a New American Economy and The Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform represents, the report “No Longer Home Grown: How labor shortages are increasing America’s reliance on imported fresh produce and slowing U.S economic growth,” found that as the consumption of produce in U.S. households increased, its production on U.S. soil did not follow suit. In fact, vegetable production actually dropped while the production of fruit showed only a slight increase. This has resulted in produce being imported from other countries to meet the demand.

While there are likely multiple factors contributing to the failure of the produce production to keep up with the demand in the U.S., the report indicated that issues with the current immigration system has definitely played a role—specifically inadequacies concerning the H-2A visa program. As a result of failing to maintain the 1998-2000 domestic market share, in addition to farmers missing out on approximately $4.9 billion in 2012, the report indicates that the U.S. gross domestic product also took a significant hit, missing out on close to $12.4 billion in that year.

Despite the recent trend, farmers throughout the nation, undoubtedly including some in the state of Florida, do still utilize the H-2A visa program to secure farm workers. As is the case with most immigration matters, the assistance of an immigration lawyer in this likely makes navigating the program much easier.

Source: Good Fruit, “Labor shortage favors imports,” Richard Lehnert, April 29, 2014

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