Town hall-style webinar to focus on H-2A visa ag workers in uncertain times

April 24, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension will present a town hall-style, web-based seminar May 7 to assist Pennsylvania agricultural stakeholders who rely on the H-2A visa program for temporary workers to operate their businesses.

The session, scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will cover COVID-19 mitigation efforts, such as international travel restrictions and consulate closures, that have disrupted the normal functioning of the H-2A visa program. These disruptions to the H-2A program raise questions about the timely arrival of guest workers and the impact on essential food and agricultural businesses. 

The webinar also will address the dangers of COVID-19 itself, raising similar questions around how to protect the health and well-being of these visa holders.

The first half of the program will feature guest speakers who will talk about the implications of the new H-2A temporary rule change, discussing impacts on how the program interfaces with state agencies; what growers are experiencing related to travel logistics and visa processing of their guest workers; steps that employers should take to protect employee health; what health programs are available to farm workers in Pennsylvania; how immigrant farm communities are experiencing the pandemic; and what legislative fixes are either in the pipeline or should be considered.

The second half of the webinar will be reserved for a question-and-answer period with the guest speakers, and webinar attendees are encouraged to send their questions beforehand. Audience members also will be able to ask their questions in a live chat with the panelists during the webinar.

Guest speakers include Richard Stup, agricultural workforce specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension; Brook Duer, staff attorney at the Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law; Grant Meckley, Pennsylvania Keystone Health’s Agricultural Worker Program; Scott Sheely, executive director of the Lancaster County Agriculture Council; and Alyssa Charney, agriculture legislative assistant from U.S. Sen. Robert Casey’s office. Casey serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

Webinar registrants can submit questions via email to extension educators Benjamin Bartley, bvb5598@psu.edu (English), and Maria Gorgo mag38@psu.edu (Spanish).

To register for this webinar, go to the website.

For more information, contact Gorgo at mag38@psu.edu or 609-369-3281, or Dana Ollendyke at djm428@psu.edu or 814-863-5567.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 24, 2020