H-2A Employers Gain Access to Section 514 Housing Loans
In the FY18 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1625 – generally referred to as the “Omni” or “Omnibus”), passed by Congress and signed into law on March 23, 2018, includes a provision permanently changing the statutory language governing the Section 514 farm labor housing loan program. Section 514 housing loans are administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) and offer low-interest loans (1% fixed interest rate) for periods up to 33 years, available to purchase or upgrade farm labor housing. Previously, employers of H-2A employees were specifically excluded from participating in the program, but this change adds permanent language to the statute expanding eligibility from U.S. citizens and green card holders to now cover housing for “a person legally admitted to the United States and authorized to work in agriculture.”
Credit for the change goes to Rep. Newhouse (R-WA) who introduced the provision in 2017 and to the persistent advocacy work of U.S. Apple and the Washington State Tree Fruit Association through NCAE board members Diane Kurrle and John DeVaney. Prospective H-2A employers often cite difficulty in securing housing as the #1 deterrent to participating in the program, particularly growers on the West Coast. It is hoped that this common-sense change in the law will make it possible for more growers to access the Section 514 housing loans.
More information about the Section 514 program is available from USDA:
Thank you to Chris Schulte of CJ Lake for preparing this update for NCAE Members.