The H-2A program — a visa program that allows U.S. employers to bring foreign workers to the country for temporary or seasonal jobs — has skyrocketed in popularity. In 2022, 47 states saw more H-2A workers than the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Driving much of the increase is three states: Florida, California and Georgia. Each used to have large domestic workforces to draw from for agricultural labor, but farmers have turned to the visa program as the domestic farmworker population has continued to age.

Many workers on H-2A visas have complained about working and living conditions. For instance, H-2A workers in Missouri were forced to live in an old jail.

Type of work:

Explainer A data-driven story that provides background, definition and detail on a specific topic.

Sky Chadde has covered the agriculture industry for Investigate Midwest since 2019 and spent much of 2020 focused on the crisis of COVID-19 in meatpacking plants, which included collecting and analyzing...

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