House Budget Initiative Helps Improve Access to Farm Labor
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) announced today that the Georgia Department of Agriculture has hired two farm labor specialists who are already on the job and working with farmers to employ legal farm labor through the H-2a and H-1b federal temporary employment programs. These specialists were hired using $75,000 in funding that the House added to the Georgia Department of Agriculture's budget in the Fiscal Year 2012 amended budget.
"The need for this program was brought to the attention of the House Appropriations Committee by a number of state representatives from areas of the state growing crops that require significant amounts of hand labor," said House Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn). "Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black has delivered on his promise to get this program up and running as quickly as possible, which will help producers in our state as they work to harvest their crops."
The H-2a and H-1b federal worker programs provide temporary visas which allow foreign nationals to legally enter the country to perform seasonal agricultural work. Under federal law, the employer must establish its need for the prospective worker's services. The employer's need is considered temporary if it is a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak-load need, or an intermittent need. The employer must also demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
"The Department appreciates the confidence the General Assembly has entrusted in us for these new positions. Our labor specialists have hit the ground running and are ready for the busy season ahead of us, already making contact with numerous farmers across the state," Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black said. "During this heavy harvest time, these specialists serve as a conduit of information, allowing us to better communicate and address concerns in the fields more quickly and effectively."
Representative Terry England represents the citizens of District 108, which includes portions of Barrow County. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2005, and currently serves as the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Ex-Officio of the Ways & Means Committee. He also serves as a member of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Industrial Relations, Education; and Natural Resources & Environment committees.