Agriculture depends on it’s employees, but farmers struggle to legally fill job openings. 

United States Agriculture is heavily dependent on migrant workers. Some cross the border and stay for the summer, returning to their country of residence in the off season. Others have come to the United States to make a new life for themselves and their families. The last group, the one farmers don’t talk about, are the migrants who crossed and are employed illegally.

U.S. citizens don’t want to work on farms. The work is difficult, conditions aren’t great, and the work is largely seasonal, leaving workers to live off half of a year’s pay or find a second job.

Innovation in equipment has let some farmers cut down on the number of employees needed during harvest or planting, but new tractors, implements, and technology are expensive. This leaves small farms and farmers to continue traditional methods.

According to the Center for Migration Studies, 45 percent of agriculture employees in the United States are undocumented and 75 percent do not speak English or do not speak English well.

 

These undocumented migrant workers rely on agricultural work to support themselves or their families and the United States food system relies on this labor to support food production and consumption.

To curtail deportation and support the growing need for people willing to do the physical labor agriculture requires, the government has introduced a variety of programs for migrant agriculture workers that lead to legal citizenship and work.

One of these programs, the H2A, allows for people not from the United States to enter legally, work for several months, then return to their country of origin.

In order to qualify for this program, farmers must be capable of providing a suitable home for workers in addition to a set pay, higher than minimum wage.

This program provides more employees for farmers and allows workers to make a significant amount of money.

H2A is an effective program for meeting the needs of Americans, Farmers, and workers, but does not provide a pathway to citizenship in the United States.

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