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Bob Larson Ag Housing Eligibility bill
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: July 23, 2018

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With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. H-2A guestworkers now have the same eligibility for USDA-funded housing as domestic workers.

The change comes thanks to an amendment to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 by U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse …

NEWHOUSE … “I was delighted to see that I had an amendment to some legislation that was adopted and passed into law for 2018 that directed changes of the way that USDA utilizes some of the farm labor housing in areas where it’s available.”

Newhouse says the housing extension should be a big help for workers here in Washington state …

NEWHOUSE … “The H-2A workers can now be eligible for the type of housing, I think it’s section 514 loans that are utilized from the USDA to construct. So, I can think of several examples right in my own backyard where this will alleviate a true housing shortage.”

He says it could help fill an unnecessary gap …

NEWHOUSE … “Where we have some of the section 514 housing that’s sitting unoccupied, empty, and a lot of people that are needing housing made available to them. So, in the areas where that’s the situation this will really help alleviate the housing crunch that we have.”

Newhouse says labor scarcity is a growing problem for growers nationwide, and improving access to legal guest workers is a top priority for farmers in Central Washington.

Section 514 housing was closed to H-2A guest workers during the Obama Administration so there’d be enough available for domestic workers.

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