The Department of Labor will no longer require agricultural producers to place advertisements for H-2A jobs in print newspapers, in a move designed to boost recruiting for workers and save employers money.

In a final rule that will become effective Oct. 21, DOL said it will post job openings on its own website, Employers are expected to save about $14 million per year in newspaper advertising costs, DOL estimated.

“We’re thrilled,” said Michael Marsh, president and CEO of the National Council of Agricultural Employers. With the decline in newspaper readership, print ads have not been attracting enough interest from domestic employees, he said.

“It almost boggles your mind that for the first time since the invention of the Internet, we’re going to be able to digitally advertise for workers,” Marsh said.

DOL decided not to move forward with language in its proposed rule that would have required employers to place electronic advertisements themselves. Some employers, for religious reasons, do not use electronics.

“We have a number of members utilizing H-2A that do not use the Internet,” Marsh said, citing Amish growers as an example.

“The advertisement that the department posts on will not create any additional regulatory burden for an employer because the employer will have already provided the department with information about its job opportunity on its job order and H-2A application, which the department will use to generate the advertisement” it posts on the website.

The shift to online advertising would be a welcome change for employers who were frustrated by mandated newspaper listings. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release that the tweaks in the final rule are “critical changes … to improve the H-2A application process.”

“By streamlining these processes, DOL is bringing the H-2A process into the 21st Century allowing farmers to be able to better and cost-effectively advertise for workers they need and fill out the required forms faster and more efficiently, because no one should have to hire a lawyer to hire a farm worker,” Perdue said.

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Barb Glenn agreed, saying “producers have been asking for this rule for years and now they will have the flexibility to advertise online, like any other employer.”

The rule “further strengthens the labor market test by enhancing the existing role of the (State Workforce Agencies) in conducting outreach activities,” DOL said in the rule. The final rule allows DOL to direct a SWA to offer written notice of an employer's H-2A job opportunity to organizations that provide employment and training services to workers who are likely to apply for the job and/or place written notice in other physical locations where such workers are likely to gather.

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