Published online: Feb 27, 2013 Potato Harvesting, Potato Equipment
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YAKIMA, Wash.-While most people attending Washington Farm Labor Association meetings hope immigration reform brings a better foreign guest-worker program, they also heard about the help available for using the cumbersome H-2A program.


Growers could make more use of sharing H-2A guest-workers through multiple or sequential contracts if immigration reform fails, Dan Fazio, association director, said at the association's Workforce Summit at Yakima's Holiday Inn.


Sequential contracts make H-2A more affordable for smaller growers by shortening the time they have to pay the higher H-2A adverse effect wage rate (AEWR) of $12 per hour and reducing the time they have to hire domestic workers with H-2A wages and housing if any apply, he said.


When growers need workers at different times they can share H-2A workers through sequential contracts. Workers can pick cherries for one grower, thin apples for the next and pick pears or apples for a third, each using the same workers for different portions of their stay.


The association helped facilitate one such arrangement last season and has two prospects this year, Fazio said. It hasn't been done more because it is difficult to do, he said.

Jeff Ballew, national agribusiness leader at ADP Inc., of Roseland, N.J., and Dan Keto, chief technology officer of Integrated Management Systems, Kent, talked about their program of recruitment, hiring, payroll and regulatory compliance services to lessen H-2A risk and expense for growers.


SOURCE: Dan Wheat, Capital Press