October 12, 2007
October 12, 2007 - Bush administration officials said Tuesday that they were developing new rules so the nation's farmers could bring in more foreign guest workers to prevent a recurrence of problems due to labor shortage during harvest.
Administration officials said they saw a need to make procedural changes and larger regulatory changes in the guest worker program after Congress killed an immigration overhaul last summer.
"The current temporary agricultural worker program has become too antiquated and too cumbersome to be used effectively by producers," said a White House spokesman, Scott Stanzel. "The program needs to be updated to reflect today's economy and to utilize technological and other advances."
After President Bush called for changes in the program on Aug. 10, the White House, the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security solicited recommendations from farm groups on how to streamline the program.
The executive vice president of the Western Growers Association, Jasper Hempel, said, "We're caught in a vise. When labor isn't available, we have a legal program using H-2A, but many farmers can't use that program because there are so many impediments. They throw up double requirements. They don't process papers when they say they will. There isn't enough staff."
For many years, the U.S. sheep industry has successfully used sheep herders from foreign countries under the H-2A program. Reprinted in part from the New York Times