The US Division of Agriculture is providing grants to assist agricultural employers rent H-2A employees from the Central American nations of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The Farm Workforce Safety and Stabilization Pilot Program gives as much as $65 million in American Rescue Plan funds for producers who conform to recruit all [RC1] its new H-2A employees for the 2024 season from the nations of the so-called Northern Triangle.

Producers can use grant cash to cowl prices associated to recruiting or onboarding, salaries and administrative prices to manage the H-2A program, and sure housing upkeep prices.

The said targets of this system are to deal with the present labor scarcity in agriculture, increase authorized pathways for migration from the area, and enhance working circumstances for all agricultural employees.

Nonetheless, the cash comes with an extra layer of job safety past the present H-2A guidelines enforced by the U.S. Division of Labor. To be eligible, employers should do the next:

—Present statistics and documentation for USDA analysis. The knowledge will stay nameless, the USDA mentioned.

—Conduct “Know Your Rights” useful resource coaching for all workers.

—Disclose all nationwide and worldwide contracting practices and the hiring of contractors and subcontractors.

Rewards will vary from $25,000 to $2 million relying on the variety of workers and “dedication degree.” To entry greater ranges of funding, employers should make a number of supplemental commitments to workers from an inventory of choices that exceed state and federal necessities, akin to additional time pay, paid sick depart, and program participation. of social accountability or a collective bargaining settlement.

Final 12 months, through the public remark interval, the Northwest Horticulture Council objected to the idea of increasing employee safety guidelines by means of this grant program. “By imposing further necessities, (the USDA Farm Service Company) could be setting a distinct labor normal for employees primarily based on their immigration standing and nation of origin,” wrote the council, which represents fruit growers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho on issues of federal coverage and worldwide commerce.

The grant utility deadline is November 28.

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by Ross Courtney

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