Most of the H-2A workers are in the citrus groves, and most of the start dates for H-2A workers, were targeting first of November arrivals, he said. Last season, growers of all crops in Florida requested about 12,000 workers for the H-2A program.
Carlton said a concern is the steps in the application process that must be done after Chicago processes the H-2A applications. Those steps will also face a backlog, he said.
Likely delays in the arrival of H-2A workers unfortunately coincide with early drop pressure in citrus harvest, Carlton said.
“We could see a real impact (on the crop),” he said.
Growers associations including U.S. Apple, Western Growers, Florida Citrus Mutual, NCAE and FFVA have been asking members of Congress for help, but through Oct. 14 the administration has indicated the Chicago processing office would remain closed.
“The big plea to Congress and to the State Department, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and to the Department of Labor is that when the government starts back up, we are desperate for (them) to have extra resources in place to clear up this backlog,” Gasperini said.