Immigratio Law Expert Dissects AgJOBS

The concept of AgJOBS has been around for more than a decade. Brandon Mallory, executive director for Mid American Ag and Horticultural Services, has been directly involved in the struggle for immigration reform just as long. “I would say we understood how big the problem was maybe 15 years ago, and we started moving towards a solution,” he says. That solution was AgJOBS, which Mallory believes has its positives and negatives. “There have obviously been some changes to it since, and it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d probably say the best thing about it is that it allows the workers that are currently in the country working on farms, through a process, to stay here legally and continue to work in agriculture.”

The benefit of this is that the employees already are trained and proven agriculture workers that have the desire to work on farms. “So that’s the good about it,” Mallory says. “You wouldn’t have to start over.”

The Future Of H-2A

While on the surface AgJOBS appears to offer great benefits to growers, Mallory points out that it doesn’t permanently tie those workers to agriculture. One of the provisions of AgJOBS says that these laborers would be required to work in agriculture only for a period of a few years, after which time they would be free to work in whatever field they choose. “So it’s not a real permanent solution to the problem,” Mallory says. “Since it doesn’t permanently tie our current workforce to agriculture, in a few years, to some extent, I believe we could be back to where we are if it were not for the H-2A provision of AgJOBS.”

That’s where the H-2A guestworker program comes into play. “So if some years down the road, if the workers get older or transition to other fields of work, what we have left is the guestworker program that would allow us to bring in workers under a special visa to fill those jobs,” Mallory explains.

But, dealing with the regulatory enforcement issues of H-2A can be a headache for growers. The regulations recently have been rewritten under the Obama administration, meaning agriculture is now on its fourth set of rules over the last couple of years. The new regulations became law on March 15, and according to Mallory, they’re going to make using the program more costly and complicated for producers.

But, out of 105 pages of language in the current AgJOBS legislation, 75 of them are dedicated to H-2A revision, Mallory says. Essentially, this will eliminate the future possibility of a new administration changing the rules yet again. “What AgJOBS will do is it will change the program in such a way that it will go back to the way it was to some extent, but will add a lot of new things that are going to be of benefit to employers and producers,” Mallory says. “It would be much easier to use the H-2A program, and we’ll not be subject to the whims of a change in administration.”

Adhering To Regulations

So, what’s the best way for growers to make sure they’re understanding and adhering to the regulations correctly? Mallory recommends seeking council from an H-2A agent that can help with the process. He says he works exclusively with MASLabor (www.maslabor.com). “They understand as well as anybody how to administer the program,” he says.

As for the future of AgJOBS and how growers can make the most of it, Mallory says right now, the best thing growers can do is make sure they’re educated and keeping their eyes and ears open relative to immigration reform. And, when the opportunity presents itself, support AgJOBS. “It speaks to the needs of the workers as well as to the needs of the farms, and although not perfect, it’s a huge step in the right direction,” Mallory says. “Obama says immigration reform is a priority for him, so our hope in the agricultural community is that any look at comprehensive legislation will include the AgJOBS legislation in its entirety. In other words, they would roll that whole AgJOBS piece right into comprehensive reform.”

Mallory adds that he’s not sure what the odds are that the current Administration will tackle immigration reform this year, but he remains hopeful. “I would say that we still have our fingers crossed regarding some type of immigration reform bill this year,” he says. “But this is a very fluid topic.”

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Jacket Rot Almonds featured image
Nuts
April 29, 2016
Look Out For Jacket Rot On Almond Leaves
Rains at bloom are causing higher than normal incidents of bacterial infections. Read More
An intern harvest salad greens at Churview Farm for a farm dinner FEATURE
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Churchview Farm Aims To Close The Gap Between Farm And Table
This year, from June through September, Churchview Farm, located just outside of Pittsburgh, will host four farm dinners a month, Read More
Cosmis Crisp apples planting FEATURE
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
How Wholesale-Only Growers And Farm Marketers Differ In Their Crop Choices
We already know of some of the differences between farm marketers and wholesale-only farms. Farm marketers outnumber wholesale-only farms. Wholesale-only Read More
apple tree trellising washington state
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure Expose Bigger Flaws
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Brandt logo
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Utah-Based Baicor
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Drip Irrigation
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On Soil Health
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Two chipping varieties Cornell released in the last few years that have shown promise are ‘Lamoka’ and ‘Waneta.’ 
“They both have outstanding chip color when fried out of the cold, which is a trait that’s important in the industry,” Cornell's Walter De Jong says.
Photo courtesy of Walter De Jong
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell University
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
field shot the Produce Peddler Colorado
Farm Marketing
April 28, 2016
Small Producers Talk Profits
Four growers from across the country discuss the importance of knowing your customer, how to handle money, and being the face of your farm. Read More
workers bending
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To Your Staff
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
The Latest
Nuts
April 29, 2016
Look Out For Jacket Rot On Almond Leaves
Rains at bloom are causing higher than normal incidents of bacterial infections. Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Churchview Farm Aims To Close The Gap Be…
This year, from June through September, Churchview Farm, located just outside of Pittsburgh, will host four farm dinners a month, Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
How Wholesale-Only Growers And Farm Mark…
We already know of some of the differences between farm marketers and wholesale-only farms. Farm marketers outnumber wholesale-only farms. Wholesale-only Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Who’s Using Biocontrols, And Who I…
With so many consumers concerned about how food is grown, many farm marketers find themselves in the unexpected role of Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure …
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Uta…
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On So…
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell Univ…
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
Farm Marketing
April 28, 2016
Small Producers Talk Profits
Four growers from across the country discuss the importance of knowing your customer, how to handle money, and being the face of your farm. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To…
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link…
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
The Truth About Most Farmworkers [Opinio…
Just ask any grower who has placed a help wanted ad. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
It’s Time To Rethink Grade Standards For…
Food waste is largely dictated by limiting produce standards. Read More
Crop Protection
April 27, 2016
Vector Transmitting Red Blotch Virus Fou…
Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) have found the vector that seems to be spreading grapevine red blotch, a Read More
Berries
April 27, 2016
New Herbicide For Tomatoes, Strawberries
The product from Helm Agro US is registered to control more than 100 broadleaf, grass, and sedge species. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
Common Sense On Immigration [Opinion: On…
We need a guest worker program if we’re going to feed America and ensure our national security. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
No Peach Crop Likely This Year In Severa…
The sudden, hard freeze that followed the warm winter means Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut growers are seeing near total losses. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]