Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

November 6, 2013

Crops at risk because farmworkers’ visas in short supply

FLORIDA — Paul Meador is concerned that his citrus groves might rot if his seasonal farmworkers don’t get their visas in time for the harvest season that begins within a week.

“I have about 10 days until I’m in trouble,” Meador, vice president for Everglades Harvesting & Hauling Inc., said last week.

During the recent government shutdown, the Departments of Labor and State, as well as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service all were unable to process the H-2A visas.

The voluntary H-2A program allows employers to hire and bring foreign workers to the U.S. for seasonal work when there’s a shortage of domestic employees.

Lawmakers and agriculture representatives in Florida fear further delays in processing those visas could lead to crops left rotting in the fields.

That’s prompted the Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and several other lawmakers to send a letter asking Labor, State and U.S.C.I.S.to speed up the  processing of agricultural visas so crops don’t go to waste.

“If you can’t get the crops picked, they will rot on the trees,” Nelson said.

Moreover, Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., Miami-based Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and 23 other lawmakers signed a similar House version of the letter Oct. 18.

“This is not something that you can just postpone, because these crops have to be picked,” Diaz-Balart said.

An immigration reform advocate, Diaz-Balart said visa applications usually take four to six weeks to process.

In the Oct. 17 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and other federal officials, Nelson and nine other senators said the recent government shutdown slowed the processing of visa petitions for foreign agricultural workers.

The senators pointed out they’ve heard from growers that delays could prevent them from getting the needed workers during harvest season, which could result in economic harm and crop losses.

The letter urged federal officials “to take as many steps as you can to speed up the processing of H-2A petitions, so that we can minimize the harm that is inflicted upon U.S. growers and consumers from the shutdown.”

In response to the letters and concerns, Labor officials said their agency and U.S.C.I.S. have implemented a process that would help expedite the process.

The Department of Labor has additional staff working on processing these visas for the next 30 days to clear the backlog.

Everglades Harvesting & Hauling Inc., in LaBelle, Fla., which has 2,000 acres of citrus mainly in Collier, Hendry, Glades and Highlands counties, hires about 400 guest workers with H-2A visas a year. Meador said they have a very small amount of domestic workers for harvesting season.

(Reach Naples Daily News reporter Tracy X. Miguel at tmiguelnaplesnews.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Greenleaf embarks on ‘a new beginning’

    Greenleaf Center invites health-care professionals and business leaders to a ribbon cutting at its 2209 Pineview Drive location to recognize the newly renovated hospital.

    April 18, 2014

  • Today in History for Friday, April 18, 2014

    Today is Good Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year.

    April 18, 2014

  • VSU, LHS bands partner for concert

    Valdosta State University Music Department’s Wind Ensemble and Lowndes High School’s Wind Symphony present a joint concert, 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 21, Whitehead Auditorium, VSU Fine Arts Building, corner of Oak and Brookwood.

    April 18, 2014

  • Southeastern Federal, VSU host baseball, movie in the park

    Almost everyone enjoys movies and almost everyone enjoys baseball, so what happens when you combine the two? That is exactly what Southeastern Federal Credit Union will be doing tonight with its Movies in the Park event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Valdosta playwright becomes author

    A Valdosta playwright has turned her play into a new book.

    April 18, 2014

  • Wild Adventures hosts Ostrich Easter Egg Hunt

    Tie on your Easter bonnet and hop over to Wild Adventures Saturday, April 19, for an Easter egg hunt with a distinctly Wild Adventures twist.

    April 18, 2014

  • GMC Valdosta holding Admissions Day

    Georgia Military College Valdosta will be hosting Admissions Day on Tuesday from 8-6 p.m.

    April 18, 2014

  • Color Me Free fun run planned

    South Georgia House of Hope is having a Color Me Free 5k Fun Run/Walk April 26 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., to emphasize Alcohol Awareness Month. All funds raised will benefit South Georgia House of Hope, which is a long-term residential home for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and abuse.

    April 18, 2014

  • Another arrest made in kidnapping

    Another arrest was made in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, federal investigators said Thursday.
    Quantavious Thompson was taken into custody late Wednesday afternoon, FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said in a statement. Details on his arrest weren’t immediately available.

    April 18, 2014

  • Firetruck answering call slams into restaurant

    April 17, 2014

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results