An administrative law judge has ordered Gonzalo Fernandez, who operates Fernandez Farms Inc. in Watsonville, to repay kickbacks and rent he collected from more than 400 H-2A workers.

According to the decision, Fernandez requested payments of more than $1,600 apiece from several hundred foreign workers over the 2010 and 2011 seasons as reimbursement for transportation and other costs of bringing the laborers from Mexico.

Last week, the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) held a roundtable discussion and asked U.S. Representatives Mike Coffman (CO-6) and Ken Buck (CO-4) for assistance in fighting government overregulation. Robert Sakata, CFVGA president and WG member, hosted the event that also included Colorado Department of Agriculture Commissioner Don Brown and representatives from the offices of Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and U.S. Reps. Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter.  

Jeff Janas

Yesterday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced the launch of two Western Growers’ promoted initiatives designed to streamline and bring bureaucratic efficiencies to the H-2A application process. The processing changes come after continued engagement by WG staff and less than a month after WG Chairman Larry Cox led a delegation of board members to Washington, D.C.

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H-2A

Western Growers has been the leading agricultural organization in advocating for a comprehensive immigration reform solution that includes legalizing the status of currently falsely-documented farmworkers and a new guest worker visa program to ensure future flows of labor. With many members increasingly turning to the H-2A program to meet their labor needs, Western Growers has elevated H-2A reform as a top public policy priority.

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Western Growers members care deeply for the food they grow, the land they sustain, the people they employ, and the community in which they live.