To Understand The H-2A Guest Worker Program And Agricultural Labor Laws

On December 03, 2018

To Understand The H-2A Guest Worker Program And Agricultural Labor Laws

Two upcoming events will assist producers in understanding laws impacting agricultural labor. Both of these meetings will be held at the Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resources Center, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325. The first meeting will be held on December 12, 7:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and will focus on the H-2A Guest Worker Program. Each year many U.S. farmers struggle to find a willing and qualified supply of U.S. workers to meet their business needs. In response to this dilemma, the federal government has created the Temporary Agricultural Guest Worker Program, which is commonly known as H-2A. Under H-2A, qualifying employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic agricultural workers may petition the federal government for permission to bring non-immigrant foreign workers into the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural employment. Compliance with the H-2A program, however, can be a daunting task. This presentation by Sean High, Staff Attorney, Penn State Law is intended to provide a basic understanding of the H-2A program and an overview of the steps necessary to acquire H-2A workers. Additionally, the presentation will provide an update of potential legislative changes that could affect the future employment of foreign agricultural workers. There is no charge for this event, but registration is requested. To register call 1-877-345-0691. 

The second educational opportunity will follow on the same day from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. This event will focus on helping fruit and vegetable producers understand agricultural labor laws. Fruit and vegetable producers face numerous complex federal and state agricultural labor laws. Unfortunately, failure to comply with these laws could result in costly sanctions. To assist fruit and vegetable producers to better understand their agricultural labor legal obligations, an attorney from the Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law will conduct a program addressing key farm labor issues. The program will provide attendees with information regarding legal requirements through a guided agricultural labor law self-assessment and agricultural labor law fact sheets. Issues to be covered include: minimum wage, overtime, child labor, migrant and seasonal workers, and other laws affecting fruit and vegetable producers. Again, there is no charge for this event, but registration is requested. To register call 1-877-345-0691. 

To Push Ahead To Complete The Harvest

The weather across Pennsylvania continues to be unpredictable and give challenges to operators with crops still in the field. Snow and ice over the last couple weeks have just been the latest in a long list of hurdles that growers have had to overcome this season. Extension Agronomists Justin Brackenrich and Claire Coombs suggest with some careful thought and planning you can still have a successful harvest.

Having corn in the field now can be a double-edged sword. The longer it stays out, the dryer the corn will be when harvested, thus decreasing your drying costs. However, there is a higher risk of yield loss the longer the corn stays unharvested. Research on winter corn drydown showed that over a five-year span, corn grain would lose roughly 40% of its moisture between the months of October and December, when left in the field.  The tradeoff is that we cannot anticipate the weather. The same study found that a single year yield decreased by 45% and another year decreased by only 5%. 

Another concern of unharvested corn could be disease and mold. When discussing disease and mold, snow and ice poise no more danger to your crop than rain does. A positive of this situation is that the lower temperatures could have a limiting effect on pathogens’ ability to incubate or develop. A drawback of having laying snow is an increased opportunity for lodging. This year we have already seen a lot of lodging due to stem rots and adding snow to the mix may increase this risk. The risk of lodging is even further increased when coupled with winter winds and snow and ice to come.  The take away is that disease and mold issues should not be your largest concern right now.

If you have a large amount of stalk rot and lodging, harvesting as soon as possible will be best for a successful harvest. If your corn crop has lodged, one thing to remember is that this is not a usual harvest. Special consideration and care must be taken to get acceptable yields, which means slowing down and using caution. A few other options you have for getting a better harvestable yield are combining in the opposite direction, or “against the grain.” This will allow the head to get under the crop and lift it up. Another option is to use a corn reel. A corn reel is a specialized piece of equipment that mounts on the top of your corn head and uses rotating hooks to lift the corn and allow the head to get under the lodged crop.

The last concern is compaction and rutting of fields. When rushing to harvest before the soil is dried and out of its plastic state, compaction and rutting will occur. To avoid these issues, allow the soil to dry, do not use highly inflated tires, and do not rush to avoid other issues. If you do end up in a situation where you think you may have compaction, try using roots from a cover crop or crop rotation to fix the issue before thinking it must be fixed mechanically. If cover crop establishment is concern, it is very possible to plant single species cover at this date and later into the season. 

Quote Of The Week: “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” Benjamin Franklin