Farmers in South Carolina have told US Representative, Ralph Norman, that they need his help with the creation of a farm bill, making it simpler for them to hire legal immigrants for temporary agricultural work. On Tuesday, around 15 former or current farmers from the 5th District of South Carolina went to the Representative’s office in Rock Hill to discuss the future of the bill.
Some of the farmers came from as far away as Lee County, with many saying they were fourth, or even fifth, generation farmers. The 2014 Farm Bill, also known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, has been authorizing agriculture and nutrition programs in the US for the last three years but will end on 30 September 2018.
Norman says that he will use of many of the opinions expressed by farmers when creating a list of priorities for the new 2018 Farm Bill. Chris Sumpter, a farmer in Sumter County, said he feels hamstrung by the H-21 21 US visa program, which is supposed to help farmers to hire qualified immigrant workers for temporary jobs, and requires them to establish there are no qualified US workers who can fill the positions, and that American wages will not be affected by the hires.
H-2A US visa employers must pay for outbound and inbound transport, as well as meals and free housing for workers, but Sumpter says processing the US visa request can take as long as eight weeks.