A coalition of more than 60 agriculture groups led by the American Farm Bureau Federation requests agricultural workers be exempted from travel restrictions from South Africa. In a letter to the Biden administration, the coalition says, “While protecting our nation from new variants of COVID-19 is critically important, it is in our national interest to ensure production of food, fuel and fiber.”
Specifically, the groups ask Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Homeland Security Department to give National Interest Exceptions to H-2A workers coming to the United States as outlined in the proclamations as an exception to the travel restrictions. The agriculture groups say almost 7,000 guestworkers originate from South Africa, and the majority of them arrive in the U.S. in February, March and April. Many of these H-2A workers have a unique skillset, and American farmers are counting on their timely arrival as they make plans for their upcoming growing seasons.