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
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd Is An Apple Grower For Our Future
August 3, 2015
The judging for the Apple Grower Of The Year award is an interesting process that takes us through new twists Read More
GenNext GrowersPotato Industry Leadership Institute Program To Be Held In February
August 3, 2015
The application and scholarship deadline is Oct. 15, 2015. Read More
Vegetables13 Of The Latest Pepper Varieties
August 3, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pepper varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, and more. Be Read More
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd, The 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year
August 3, 2015
  Informed of his selection as the 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year by American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower™ Read More
Farm ManagementLocally Grown The Lipman Way
August 3, 2015
With Lipman Local, the Florida operation has developed a mutually beneficial program that sources local produce around the country and helps smaller growers raise their game. Read More
Farm ManagementCorrect Misconceptions About Farming [Opinion]
August 3, 2015
Misinformation about agriculture abounds. We need to put a stop to it and set the record straight. Read More
UFR-2 Vernia citrus rootstock
Citrus Achievement AwardLessons Learned Via Citrus Variety Evaluation Never End
August 1, 2015
Orie Lee, the 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winner, discusses his decades-long involvement with Vernia. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoResearchers To Put 3 Major Crop Threats On Trial
August 1, 2015
Nematode, disease, and weed management on deck for the 10th annual Florida Ag Expo. Read More
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
PotatoesLate Blight Confirmed In Areas Of Idaho; Number Of Potato Psyllids Dips
July 31, 2015
The number of potato psyllids decline while additional fields are noted as having late blight. Read More
The Latest
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd Is An Apple Grower For Our Future
August 3, 2015
The judging for the Apple Grower Of The Year award is an interesting process that takes us through new twists Read More
GenNext GrowersPotato Industry Leadership Institute Program To Be Held…
August 3, 2015
The application and scholarship deadline is Oct. 15, 2015. Read More
Vegetables13 Of The Latest Pepper Varieties
August 3, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pepper varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, and more. Be Read More
Apple Grower of the YearBill Dodd, The 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year
August 3, 2015
  Informed of his selection as the 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year by American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower™ Read More
Farm ManagementLocally Grown The Lipman Way
August 3, 2015
With Lipman Local, the Florida operation has developed a mutually beneficial program that sources local produce around the country and helps smaller growers raise their game. Read More
Farm ManagementCorrect Misconceptions About Farming [Opinion]
August 3, 2015
Misinformation about agriculture abounds. We need to put a stop to it and set the record straight. Read More
UFR-2 Vernia citrus rootstock
Citrus Achievement AwardLessons Learned Via Citrus Variety Evaluation Never End
August 1, 2015
Orie Lee, the 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winner, discusses his decades-long involvement with Vernia. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoResearchers To Put 3 Major Crop Threats On Trial
August 1, 2015
Nematode, disease, and weed management on deck for the 10th annual Florida Ag Expo. Read More
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
PotatoesLate Blight Confirmed In Areas Of Idaho; Number Of Pota…
July 31, 2015
The number of potato psyllids decline while additional fields are noted as having late blight. Read More
Apples & PearsReTain Now Registered For Double Application
July 31, 2015
ReTain plant growth regulator (PGR) has been registered by EPA with a new label use that allows pome fruit growers Read More
Crop ProtectionLettuce Disease Gives E. Coli A Boost
July 31, 2015
E. coli prefer cut, injured, and young lettuce leaves. Read More
Farm ManagementAn Excellent Industry Education [Opinion]
July 31, 2015
The end of one era, and the ushering in of another. Read More
Stone FruitThe Strong Staying Power Of The Redhaven Name In Peache…
July 31, 2015
People tend to be nostalgic about peach varieties, but the switch of varieties grown by a region happens for a Read More
Crop ProtectionResources For Knowing Your Soil
July 30, 2015
Getting to know your soil and learning other environmental and natural resources data can be downloaded and is available for use with many computer software platforms for general resource analysis and farm management. Read More
money
CitrusBankrupt Florida Farm To Yield Plenty Of Land, Equipmen…
July 30, 2015
As many as seven different buyers could be part of this Chapter 11 proceeding. Read More
Sanjay Shukla
ProductionGeometrically Speaking, Thinking Smaller Might Produce …
July 30, 2015
University of Florida scientist develops compact planting bed formula that cuts water, fertilizer, and pesticide use in half. Read More
GrapesDrought’s Impact On California Winegrapes
July 30, 2015
The impact is minimal this year, but the future is uncertain if the drought continues. Read More