Responding to our members’ needs to get trees planted this season, FLA advocated for exceptions for H2-B visa forestry workers, stating that these workers are seasonal, and their work qualifies for a national interest exception.
On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation suspending the entry of H-2B visa guest workers into the country through December 31, 2020. The ban included forestry workers who are essential to the operation of the forest sector supply chain which was designated as a “Critical Infrastructure” by the Department of Homeland Security at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, August 12, the Trump Administration responded to the needs of the forestry supply chain on the H-2B front in a way that promotes seasonal forestry related businesses. The State Department issued guidance that names forestry as an example of exceptions that should be made to facilitate continued economic recovery. The guidance included an exception for “travel necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States” and specifically mentioned “those working in forestry and conservation.”
FLA applauds the Trump Administration for recognizing the importance of supporting the seasonal nature of forestry’s planting season and providing immigration exemptions for forestry H2-B workers. We look forward to our continued work with the White House and the Department of State to ensure consular officers have the resources they need to rapidly process these workers to ensure a full planting season.
Without these forestry H-2B exceptions, the planting season for private forest landowners would have been disrupted and the long-term forest industry would have suffered greatly.
“The executive orders laid out by the Trump Administration have been a smart and necessary economic and public safety response to the COVID-19 crisis. We appreciate the State Department’s guidance in recognizing the seasonal nature of forestry’s planting season and its importance to the continued sustainable supply of wood and pulp grown by American forest landowners. This new guidance moves us one step closer to ensuring another successful tree planting season.” Michael Crowell, 5th Generation Louisiana Forest Landowner and FLA Government Affairs Chair.