The national trend in agriculture is an unsettling one, and hits close to home in Washington state. Despite growing demand for output, there are not enough workers to fill the jobs. The federal H-2A visa program for temporary or seasonal agricultural workers does not serve industries like dairy well, which require a year-round workforce. Nor does it help meet the shorter-term employment needs of smaller fruit orchards.
For larger farming operations, delays in processing H-2A paperwork can lead to costly missed harvests, agriculture sources say.
Some Washington Congressional representatives are among a group of more than 100 seeking changes to the how H-2A process is administered.