Due to nationwide labor shortages in all workforces, the cap on H-2B temporary labor visas was reached on September 30, marking it the earliest point in time that the first half H-2B cap has ever been reached in program history.
In response, FLA joined other forestry stakeholders in sending a letter to the Department of Labor requesting immediate action to end these delays, including a streamlined process to clear the backlog of applications, and treating timely filed Farm Labor Contractor certificate renewals as valid – as is required by federal law – so that H-2B applications are processed in a timely manner.
These delays are particularly serious because the planting of trees is time-sensitive and weather-dependent. While these applications languish, the clock is ticking.
Forestry operations that rely on H-2B workers for the planting season urgently need additional visas to support their U.S. workforce. The work done by H-2B workers in the forestry community is restricted to a short season when weather conditions allow for planting trees. The tree planting season for landowners typically starts in October and ends in February. The timeline for prepping the land, preparing the seedlings to be pulled from the nurseries, quickly packing, and shipping the live seedlings, and finally planting the trees is all interconnected and directly ties to a reoccurring seasonal need.