US: H-2A delays threaten winter vegetable harvest

America’s nearly $4 billion winter vegetable harvest is in jeopardy if the Obama administration doesn’t immediately speed up foreign guest worker visa applications that have been stalled during the government shutdown, the Western Growers Association warns.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification at the U.S. Department of Labor has been closed since Oct. 1 and processing of H-2A guest worker applications was halted just when the growing season for winter vegetables was getting underway, the association said in a news release.

Federal workers who were furloughed under the partial government shutdown were to return to work Oct. 17.

It usually takes at least eight weeks to process H-2A applications and if workers are not in place by Nov. 18, consequences will be dire, said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers.


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