Last week, the Western Growers Board of Directors met in Sacramento where they engaged with key administration officials and legislative representatives and deliberated on major policy issues facing the membership and broader Western fresh produce industry.

The following is a summary of several important points of discussion and significant action taken by the Board:

Cory Lunde

Western Growers has long advocated for Congress to take action on immigration reform in order to provide members with a legal and reliable workforce. We will continue to work toward meaningful solutions critical to the needs of our industry and the nation.

However, because of Washington’s intractable political climate, we have broadened our efforts to focus on reforming and streamlining the only program farmers can use to legally bring in foreign workers to harvest their crops – the H-2A program.

Jeff Janas

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a notice announcing this year’s Allowable Charges for H-2A workers. The notice establishes the allowable charges that H-2A employers may charge their workers when the employer provides three meals a day and the maximum travel subsistence meal reimbursement that a worker with receipts may claim in 2016. When an H-2A employer provides meals, the job offer must state the charge, if any, to the worker for such meals. For 2016, the maximum allowable meal charge is $12.09 per day unless the DOL approves a higher charge.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced that employers who participate in H-1B, H-2A and H-2B temporary nonimmigrant visa programs should expect delays due to “technical network problems.”

Jeff Janas

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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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