Western Grower & Shipper 2018 11Nov-Dec

year doing it on our own,” said Ryan Talley. “We have had a much better experience doing it ourselves.” While the paperwork was tedious the first year and the company went through a learning curve, he said this year was much easier. And the result has been very satisfying. “The individual workers are happy to be here, they appreciate the opportunity and are eager to work.” Compared to the local workforce, he said the H-2A workers are more productive and the quality of work is superior. “If you have a crew with 16 to 18 workers, 16 to 18 people show up,” he said. Talley said the key to success is using the company’s longtime workers to recruit H-2A workers. “We are recruiting from the home towns of some of our domestic workers. We go down there (to Mexico) recruit workers and explain exactly what we are looking for. We are getting recommendations from our workers. It’s a win-win. It has been a wonderful experience for us.” Talley personally participated in the recruitment in Mexico and he believes that was very important. “The key was having individuals already working for us

wage and hour laws. One thing that is not a problem is the prevailing wage laws. DOL rules set the adverse effect wage that the workers must be paid. In California, for 2018, the wage is $13.18. “Most workers will make that and more so it’s not an issue,” Resnick said. “In Arizona, the prevailing rate is lower than the state’s minimum wage, so it is not an issue at all.” With regard to the program itself, Resnick said employers put in an application for a set amount of unnamed workers and then they must recruit those workers once the application is approved. “Overall I think it is working pretty well now,” he said. “We don’t see the issues that we had in the past such as delays in approving the application beyond the time when the workers were needed. That doesn’t seem to happen anymore.” Resnick said for those interested who can solve the housing issue, “it is a workable program that can give you a legal, guaranteed workforce. And WG’s legal department can help with the paperwork.”

talking to individuals in their own towns,” he reiterated. The company recruited 45 people with the majority having nine to 10 month contracts and a few having three to four month contracts. He admits that it was the fear of the unknown that prevented Talley Farms from trying to access the H-2A years earlier. “We heard the horror stories and thought it was a daunting task.” He said one hurdle Talley Farms did not have to jump was the housing issue. “We already had enough houses on our farm to handle the workers. That’s a problem others have that we don’t have.” Resnick said that is one of the biggest challenges. The H-2A regulations require the employer to provide suitable housing for the workers. “That is a limiting factor,” he said, “especially in California. Availability and affordability of housing in California is a problem. Zoning rules make it difficult to build new housing and it’s difficult to buy housing because of the cost. Many employers say that is a significant deterrence.” Some H-2A workers have had to be housed quite a distance from the field requiring extensive travel time, which can gets into a complicated situation regarding

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