Lawsuit says Trump administration tries to cut farm wages

Agricultural guestworkers will see sharply lower wages because of the USDA's decision to cancel a semiannual survey that is used to calculate their pay, said a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal district court in Fresno, California. The suit asks the court to order the USDA to carry out the October survey so that the Labor Department can use the results to set minimum wages for the country's 250,000 or more H-2A guestworkers.

Feds investigating after H-2A worker died of Covid-19 complications at a Texas potato plant

Marco Antonio Galvan Gomez, a 48-year-old husband and father from Guanajuato, Mexico, had worked eight years on a seasonal visa at Larsen Farms, one of the biggest potato producers in the nation, when he died of complications related to Covid-19 on July 20. He had spent the previous 12 days struggling to keep working despite suffering from fever, aches and shortness of breath; Larsen officials denied his request to return home to Mexico, and Galvan got no medical treatment from local health officials, according to FERN's latest story, published with Texas Observer. (No paywall)

Farmworkers will be exempt from immigration restrictions

After vowing to ban immigration in a late-night tweet, President Trump said Tuesday the administration would temporarily halt the issuance of new green cards and would not stand in the way of guest workers entering the United States. “The farmers will not be affected. That is a very …

USDA, Labor Department plan would allow guestworkers to shift jobs

To aid farmers worried about an imminent labor shortage, two federal departments said on Thursday that they will help farms find foreign and domestic workers who may be eligible to transfer from one agricultural employer to another. (No paywall)

For Mexico’s migrant farmworkers, virus risk may be worth it for what they’ll earn in U.S.

The global pandemic feels distant to 31-year-old Manuel Alejandro Lopez Delgado in his town of some 4,000 people in the state of Sinaloa, along the Gulf of California. There’s been just one confirmed case of coronavirus in the state, and that was four hours away, in the city of Culiacan. But in the next two weeks, Lopez, along with three other workers from his town, will be traveling to the U.S. to work in Washington State. The three-day bus journey will take them to the epicenter of the Covid-19 crisis in America.(No paywall) 

U.S. embassy and consulates in Mexico to shut down, threatening labor supply for American farms

American farmers are bracing for major delays in the arrival of workers through the H-2A visa program after U.S. officials announced late Monday that the embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. consulates in Mexico will close, effective March 18, due to health and safety concerns caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Officials at the embassy did not say when the facilities might reopen. The H-2A program brings some 200,000 foreign workers to U.S. farms each year.(No paywall)

Trump wouldn’t sign House ag labor bill, says Perdue

Despite strong and bipartisan House support for farm labor reform, President Trump is unlikely to sign a reform bill, now stalled in the Senate, if it reaches him, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.

House sends bipartisan farm labor bill to Senate

On a strong 260-165 vote, the House passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and modernize the H-2A guestworker program. Lead sponsor Rep. Zoe Lofgren said that although action in the Republican-controlled Senate is not certain, “there is an interest” in assuring a reliable farm workforce.

House panel approves farm labor reform, floor vote ‘soon’

The House will vote soon on a bipartisan bill to provide legal status to undocumented farmworkers and to modernize the H-2A agricultural guestworker program — the first agricultural labor reform bill in three decades, said sponsor Rep. Zoe Lofgren.