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Newhouse Statement on USDA Implementation of Housing Eligibility for Temporary Farm Workers

July 10, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) release of guidance on changes made to farm labor housing eligibility. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 included Rep. Newhouse’s amendment that directed these changes. The amendment extends the Farm Labor Housing tenant eligibility to agricultural workers legally admitted to the United States and authorized to work in agriculture. Due to this rule change, domestic farm laborers legally admitted into the country under an H-2A work visa are now eligible for this state-inspected housing.

“Labor scarcity is a growing problem for agriculture producers nationwide, and improving access to legal guest workers is a top priority for farmers in Central Washington,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I applaud USDA’s announcement that it is implementing my legislation to allow housing to be used for both domestic and legally-admitted temporary workers.”

Background:

Newhouse Farm Labor Housing Amendment: Section 514 loans are provided to buy, build, improve, and repair housing for farm laborers. Rep. Newhouse’s amendment would allow section 514 housing to be used for both domestic and H-2A workers in situations where housing units are currently unoccupied or underutilized.   

In March of 2018, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Homeland Security Secretary Kjerstjen Nielsen, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new coordination to streamline and improve the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program, which is administered by the Departments of State, Agriculture, Labor, and Homeland Security.

USDA has released internal guidance for implementing this new rule.

The application period is now open, with a deadline of August 27, 2018.