Protracted dependence and unstable relations: Agrarian questions in the H-2A visa program1

Laura Anne Minkoff-Zern, Mary Jo Dudley, Anna Zoodsma, Bhavneet Walia, Rick Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Drawing on US Department of Labor data and a qualitative case study of New York state horticultural growers, this article explores farmers’ experiences with the H-2A agricultural guestworker visa program. We found that the program is particularly challenging for small to mid-scale (moderate-sized) farmers due to its high costs and deeply bureaucratic structure, as well as its politically dependent, and therefore insecure, nature. These moderate-sized farmers, while the primary users of the program, are less likely than larger scale farmers to have the time and profit margin to easily navigate the program. Yet, as interviews make clear, farmers who use the H-2A program still feel that it is the best of their limited options for accessing reliable and experienced farm labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Agrarian questions
  • Farm labor
  • Food policy
  • Guestworkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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