State of ag labor amid COVID-19


Agricultural labor advocates watch farms closely for an increase in COVID-19 cases among workers.

According to ag labor groups, distancing and hygiene guidelines have been mostly voluntary and are inconsistent across many farms.

They want federal regulations and enforcement of nationwide policies on the farms, but farmers say that they are already doing everything they can to keep workers as healthy as possible. This includes sanitizing busses, distributing hand washing stations, and handing out face masks.

Some in the U.S. Senate want to see more of those jobs go to American workers during the pandemic and four Republican Senators want the Trump administration to suspend issuance of H-1B and H-2B visas for at least 60 days.

“Given the extreme lack of available jobs for American job-seekers as portions of our economic begin to reopen, it defies common sense to admit additional foreign guest workers to compete for such limited employment,” the letter from Sen. Grassley, Sen. Cruz, Sen. Hawley and Sen. Cotton read. “There is no reason why unemployed Americans and recent college graduates should have to compete in such a limited job market against an influx of additional H-1B workers.”

According to the Hagstrom Report, historically attempts to get Americans to take tough, physical jobs has not been successful.

For all updates on the Coronavirus and how it impacts Rural America, visit our Coronavirus outbreak hub.