HAC Advises Housing Protections and Education for H-2A Farmworkers
HAC responded on October 24, 2022, to a request for information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), which is developing a Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program. FSA says this “grant program will use up to $65 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide support for agricultural employers in implementing robust labor standards to promote a safe, healthy work environment for both U.S. workers and workers hired from Northern Central American countries under the seasonal H-2A visa program.”
HAC’s comments noted that currently, the H-2A program requires employers to provide free housing to visa holders that complies with a set of guidelines. While the law requires these living quarters to be inspected before occupancy, Department of Labor (DOL) data shows that neither federal nor state governments have allocated sufficient resources to conduct these inspections. In 38 states, there is no regulation of farmworker housing or dedicated agency to perform the required inspections. States that do have housing inspection systems in place are often under resourced.