The recent decision by the U.S. Department of State to suspend visa processing in Mexico "has caused great concern" in the U.S. pork industry, NPPC wrote Thursday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The pork industry, a farm sector that operates year-round, uses the H-2A visa program for specialized work, but cannot use the program for most labor needs because of its seasonal limitation. Hog farmers are major users of the TN visa program, which taps labor from Mexico.
"Last year, there were only about 21,000 TN visas issued, with agricultural professions only accounting for a portion of that. Although this is a small number compared to the over 200,000 H-2A visas issued, specialized TN professionals with key skills, including animal breeders, animal scientists and veterinarians are critical to the operation of U.S. hog farms," the letter explained.
U.S. pork producers cannot telecommute and are on the front lines of keeping the food supply plentiful and uninterrupted. NPPC reiterated the need for the processing of the TN visas to continue.
Feed deliveries now included in Hours of Service
Thanks to NPPC's advocacy efforts, this week the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Safety Administration expanded the scope of its nationwide waivers for Hours of Service rules to include feed deliveries, as well as raw materials to manufacture disinfectants and other vital cleaning supplies, among other efforts.
HOS governs the amount of time commercial truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives. Last week, the agency announced HOS waivers to cover livestock haulers. The waivers remain in force until April 12, and could be extended if warranted by the COVID-19 crisis.