CATCH THE BUZZ - New Procedures for H2A Workers EZezine


CATCH THE BUZZ

New Procedures For Migratory Beekeepers and H2A Workers

The Labor Department has issued “special procedures” that allow migratory beekeepers to move their H2A workers from state-to-state without having to register them in each state. The new procedures had been requested by the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF).

“This is great news,” said ABF Past President Zac Browning, who had been working for the change for several years. “The old procedure was a real hassle. This gives us much more flexibility in our operations.”

Under the old procedures, migratory beekeepers had to advertise for domestic workers and certify their need for foreign workers in each state where they needed workers. Now, they can make one certification and provide an itinerary showing where the workers will be used.

Browning and other members of the ABF Legislative Committee had maintained constant pressure on the Department to adopt the new procedures, which are similar to those already in place for other employers, such as custom grain harvesters.

For more information regarding the SPECIAL PROCEDURES, click here.

 

Highlights From the SPECIAL PROCEDURES:

After receiving a request from the American Beekeeping Federation and in consideration of

the unique characteristics of itinerant commercial beekeeping operations, the Department is

exercising its authority to establish certain special procedures for processing H-2A

applications for itinerant commercial beekeeping occupations.

 

The Department recognizes that an industry-wide standard exists among commercial beekeeping employers to transport honey bee colonies to farms and orchards throughout the U.S.

 

Itinerant commercialbeekeepers typically transport their honey bee colonies north in the summer and south in the winter, stopping as needed to pollinate crops in bloom. For both commercial beekeepers and farmers, the need to move bees from one state to another throughout the growing season has intensified as the number of bees and beekeepers decline and agricultural methods evolve.

 

Large farms and orchards require a large concentration of healthy, active pollinators during

specific periods when crops are in flower. In addition, beekeepers have determined that they

can maintain stronger, healthier honey bee colonies by transporting their colonies to warmer,

southern states during the cold months.

 

Providing flexibility in the H-2A Program for itinerant commercial beekeepers to move honey bee colonies to various parts of the U.S. will enable this industry to maintain strong, healthy honey bee colonies and provide the pollination services which are vital to successful crop production. Accordingly, the Department is establishing special procedures enabling itinerant commercial beekeeper employers to use the H-2A Program while moving their beekeeping activities among farms and orchards located in multiple areas of intended employment throughout the U.S.

 

Some of the Special Procedures for Applications in the Itinerant Commercial Beekeeping Industry under the H-2A Program

Below are some of the highlights of this bill, please see the complete bill for all details.

·         Unless otherwise specified in this attachment, applications submitted for itinerant commercial beekeeping occupations must comply with the requirements for processing H-2A applications outlined in 20 CFR Part 655,Subpart B. Similarly, unless otherwise specified, job orders submitted for itinerant commercial beekeeping occupations must comply with the requirements of 20 CFR Parts 655 Subpart B, 653 subparts B and F, and 654.

·         An employer engaged in commercial beekeeping activities is allowed to submit a single Agricultural and Food Processing Clearance Order and all appropriate attachments covering a planned itinerary of work in multiple states.

 

·         If the job opportunity is located in more than one state the employer must submit the job order and all attachments (including a detailed Itinerary to the SWA having jurisdiction over the anticipated worksite(s) where the work is expected to begin.

 

·         The employer must submit the job order no more than 75 calendar days and no less than 60 calendar days before the employer’s first date of need.

 

·         The SWA will review the job order for regulatory compliance and will work with the employer to address any noted deficiencies.

 

·         The job order shall remain active until 50 percent of the work contract period has elapsed

for all SWAs in possession of the employer’s job order

 

·         Job qualifications and requirements.

Experience. Due to the unique nature of the work to be performed, the job offer may specify that applicants possess up to 3 months of experience as a beekeeper and may require reference(s) to verify the applicant’s experience performing such activities. Applicants must provide the name, address, and telephone number of any previous employer used as a reference.

 

·         Completion of Itinerary. An itinerant beekeeping employer may require in its job offer that an applicant for the job must be available to work for the entire itinerary.

 

·         An applicant referred to the employer after the labor certification has been granted, but before 50 percent of the work contract period for the entire itinerary has elapsed, must be available and willing to join the employer at whatever place the employer is located at the time and remain with the employer for the duration of the beekeeping itinerary.

 

Other Requirements.

·         Due to the unique nature of the work to be performed, the job offer may specify that applicants may not have bee-, pollen- or honey-related allergies and must have or be able to obtain within 30 days of employment, a valid U.S. driver’s license. The employer must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

 

·         Housing. The employer must state in its job offer that sufficient housing will be provided at no cost to H-2A workers and any workers in corresponding employment who are not reasonably able to return to their residence within the same day.

·         Rates of pay. For each state listed in an approved itinerary, the employer must state in its job offer and agree to pay a wage that is at least the highest of the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), the prevailing hourly wage, the agreed-upon collective bargaining wage, or the Federal or state minimum wage, in effect at the time the work is performed.


 

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