Hoeven, Bipartisan Group Working to Ensure Farmer & Rancher Feedback on Major Ag Worker Program Reforms

Senators Request Additional 60 Days for Public Comment on Proposed H-2A Program Reforms

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week joined a bipartisan group of senators, led by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), in requesting that two federal agencies give farmers and ranchers more time to review and comment on significant reforms to the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program. In letters to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, the senators urge for a 60-day public comment extension for:

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed rulemaking, “Modernizing H-2 Program Requirements, Oversight, and Worker Protections, 88 FR 65040.”
  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed rulemaking, “Improving Protections for Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States, 88 FR 63750.”

“The United States takes pride in producing the world’s safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply. Our nation’s ability to do so is entirely contingent on the strength of our agricultural workforce. The H-2A program provides a critical labor pool without which many producers in our states would struggle or be entirely unable to operate,” said the senators. “Any proposed regulatory changes to the H-2A program have potential ramifications for the entire American agricultural supply chain and food security. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that our constituents be provided adequate time to thoroughly analyze this proposed rule and its effects on their operations.”

In addition to Hoeven and Hyde-Smith, the letters were co-signed by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Angus King, Jr. (I-Maine), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Kennedy (R-La.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.).

The senators’ requests were prompted by farmers, ranchers and other agricultural stakeholders in their states who are increasingly concerned that DHS and DOL will finalize the rules before they can fully assess and comment on the new federal mandates on agricultural employers. The senators’ letters to Mayorkas and Su can be read here and here, respectively.