According to a press release by the United States Department of Agriculture, the department has created a pilot program that it says will strengthen the food supply chain by “reducing irregular migration” and focusing on a “more resilient” H-2A visa program.

Recently, President Biden met with national leaders from across the Western Hemisphere, where they presented the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection at the Summit of the Americas. The declaration is formatted with three key initiatives: stabilization, legal pathways and amnesty, and “humane migration management.”

“In preparation for the Summit, the United States and other countries in the region developed a suit of bold new migration-related deliverables,” reads the USDA release.

The release then extolls the formability of the United States’ food supply chain, adding that “the full economic contribution of the food and agriculture industries is estimated to be nearly $7 trillion.” However, the release then argues that “the key to the success of these industries is millions of [temporary] farmworkers.”

The USDA continues:

The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the importance of these workers and their contributions to our nation’s food security, and simultaneously highlighted challenges of labor instability, irregular migration, and the need for increased labor protections in order to increase the resiliency of our food system and supply chain.

To address these challenges, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in coordination with the other federal agencies will develop a pilot program utilizing up to $65 million in American Rescue Plan funding to provide support for agricultural employers in implementing robust health and safety standards to promote a safe, healthy work environment for both U.S. workers and workers hired from Northern Central American countries under the seasonal H-2A visa program.

The USDA adds that while these proposals would “improve the resiliency of our food and agricultural supply chain,” they would also “advance several major Administration priorities.” Included in these priorities are “driving U.S. economic recovery and safeguarding domestic food security,” which the Administration says it will fix by “expanding the potential pool of workers.

According to the release, other administration priorities are “reducing irregular migration through the expansion of legal pathways,” and “improving working conditions for farmworkers,” particularly temporary foreign farmworkers in the U.S. on H-2A visas.

You can read the full USDA release here.

Updated: Thu, Sep 22nd 2022 @ 5:25pm EDT