The H-2A visa program, which provides guest workers in U.S. agriculture, continues to be more heavily used by American farmers every year. According to Jackson Takach, chief economist at Farmer Mac, a lender for agricultural and rural infrastructure based in Washington, D.C., the trend will likely continue in the next few years, said. In 2022, more than 378,000 guest workers were authorized through the H-2A program, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. A decade earlier, that figure stood at just 103,000.
While H-2A workers are most utilized in California and Florida, where fruits and vegetables require more manual labor, they’re also important for agriculture in the Midwest and Great Plains. In Illinois, more than 2,300 workers were certified last year. In Missouri, that number stood just above 1,200. A vast majority come from Mexico, according to the National Center for Farmworker Health.