Tester Applauds USDA & Homeland Security Decision to Protect Montana Farmers, Food Security

Senator: “I’m going to keep pushing aggressively to make sure our family farmers and ranchers have the certainty they need”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today applauded a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security to amend certain H-2A visa requirements to support Montana agriculture employers and protect American food security during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the Senate’s only working farmer, I know firsthand that Montana’s producers have been hit hard by this pandemic, but I’m glad this critical step will help provide some relief and protect our nation’s food security,” said Tester. “I’m going to keep pushing aggressively to make sure our family farmers and ranchers have the certainty they need to get through this crisis and continue raising the ag products that feed the world.”

Under this temporary rule, certain H-2A employers will be able to hire workers who are already certified under the H-2A program. This rule will also allow the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to allow certified H-2A workers to stay in the country beyond the three-year maximum currently in place. These provisions will be put in place to mitigate the impact of travel restrictions on seasonal workers who are unable to come to the U.S. and work for agricultural producers. This flexibility is critical for farmers and ranchers who are battling unprecedented uncertainty from COVID-19, and need a steady supply of labor to keep the U.S. food supply chain stable.

Senator Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer, has been leading the fight to make sure Montana producers have the certainty they need to get through the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, he sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging the Trump Administration to grant farmers more flexibility in their Farm Service Agency loans in order to ensure the continuity of the country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic by providing critical relief to producers. And, after Montana’s ranchers recently saw the steepest price decline for cattle in forty years due to the outbreak, Tester demanded that Secretary Perdue take immediate action to stabilize beef markets.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.