I welcome the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement today of its Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Grant Program, which will provide up to $65 million in grants to agricultural employers to invest in better working conditions in their farms, while creating more opportunities for safe and lawful migration to workers through the H-2A temporary worker program.
The H-2A program plays a critical role in the U.S. economy and food supply, allowing foreign workers to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which there are not enough U.S. workers. Through this pilot program, USDA will support participating growers recruit H-2A workers from the Northern Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – helping to stem illegal migration from these countries by providing more safe, legal pathways for migrants, while also increasing the stability of our agricultural workforce and enhancing workplace conditions for U.S. workers and non-citizens alike.
Working in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, Homeland Security, and State, USAID supports the H-2A process in Northern Central America by building the capacity of the governments in those countries to ethically recruit people and connect U.S. employers with vetted and qualified workers who want to work in the United States. USAID support thus far has helped almost triple the number of H-2A and H-2B visas issued to Northern Central American nationals – from 9,800 two years ago to nearly 27,000 so far this fiscal year.
Today’s action fulfills a commitment announced at the June 2022 Summit of the Americas, and builds on President Biden’s priority to enhance lawful pathways for migration and address the root causes of irregular migration from Central America.