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Fruit Bites Fruit grower report 2019

Bob Larson More H-2A Fees Pt 1
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: March 08, 2019

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With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. A Senate bill calling for new fees for Washington farmers who hire H-2A foreign guestworkers has been passed along to the full Senate, recommended by the Democratically-controlled Ways and Means Committee.

Washington Tree Fruit Association president Jon DeVaney says while the state does help with administrative duties, it’s a federal program …

Devaney … “They pass along some dollars to the state to help them do that. The feds have not been able to increase the dollars. Congress has not provided an increase in the funds to the program for a couple of years even as its usage has grown because of the shortage of available agricultural workers. So, Washington state has seen a substantial increase in the number of H-2A workers while they have not seen more funds coming to the state. And, State Employment Security is concerned about that and asked for more money.”

DeVaney says no one is arguing the funding needs to be addressed …

Devaney … “Fundamentally, we do agree that yes the program has increase and the resources both federally and at the state level have not been increasing and that does need to be addressed, but it should be addressed at the federal level where the fees are collected from applicants. The fact that some of those fees have not made their way back to the state does not mean that growers in Washington state should have to pay twice for the same government services.”

The bill authorized the collection of up to $75 per H-2A worker and an application fee of up to $500.

Listen tomorrow for more on Senate Bill 5438 and what it means for farmers.

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