By Clint Thompson
The top users of the H-2A program remain the same. The order at the top, though, has changed in recent years.
According to John Walt Boatright, director of government affairs with American Farm Bureau, Florida was still the top user of the program from Fiscal Year 2021 to Fiscal Year 2022 with 50,973 certified positions. California was second with 43,760 positions, and Georgia was third with 34,974.
Boatright included the information in his presentation during last week’s Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference, hosted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Food and Resource Economics Department.
“Florida, by far, has been the consistent leader over the span of several years. I think Georgia had them beat early when I was making this presentation. Probably three or four years ago, I think Georgia was No. 1, but Florida has consistently held that position. California follows behind; Georgia, Washington state and North Carolina round out the top 5,” Boatright said.
The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. Specialty crop producers are forced to utilize the program, because there is no other option. A domestic workforce is challenging, if not impossible, to find. Growers depend on the program to provide a dependable workforce.
“It is the increasingly significant way in which the Florida industry, particularly, the seasonal and perishable industry, is deriving its labor,” Boatright said.
The H-2A program is also being utilized now more than ever. Florida increased its certified position requests by 6,287, while California increased by 11,427.