Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is sponsoring legislation that would reduce paperwork and streamline worker visa programs used by U.S. farmers. The Bowling Green Republican said the measure would be a major help for the commonwealth’s agriculture industry.
The bill would make it easier for farmers to apply for H-2A and H-2B visas used to employ temporary workers from other countries. Those work permits are often used in the equine, livestock, agriculture, and dairy industries.
Sen. Paul said the bill is needed to prevent crop losses due to a lack of workers.
“We’ve actually met farmers who’ve had wokers each year, the same workers, [and] have them denied and the farmers couldn’t find local people to take care of the crops and the farmer actually lost the entire year,” he told WKU Public Radio.
The bill would allow livestock, equine, aquacultural, forestry and landscaping workers to be eligible to apply for the uncapped H-2A program. Normally those workers have to apply under the H-2B program, which is limited to an annual cap of 66,000 visas.
Paul said the legislation would make it easier for migrant workers who come back to work at the same place every year.
“We’ve told the government they need to tell people that their workers are being denied in a certain window of time. They can’t wait three months, and you’re all of a sudden in July and you’ve been waiting for three months to plant your crops and people are now telling you that you’re denied,” he said.
The measure would also add protections for employers who use a third-party group to file an application for non-immigrant visas for workers.