South Carolina’s forestry industry is a $19 billion industry, responsible for 90,000 jobs. As the president of ArborGen, the Ridgeville company that is the global leader in the production and sale of tree seedlings, I urge our congressional representatives to support the growth of the industry by renewing the H-2B “returning worker exemption.” This program provides a dedicated labor force of temporary seasonal workers who are essential for replanting forests following harvest. Anyone who makes a living from the forest knows the crucial role H-2B workers from Central America and Mexico play.
The returning worker exemption allows H-2B workers who have recently participated in the program (and have undergone its rigorous screening) to return again the next year without being constrained by artificial quotas. They do not displace U.S. workers. On the contrary, economists say each H-2B worker actually supports 4.6 permanent, full-time U.S. jobs.
H-2B workers help grow our economy, create more good-paying jobs and strengthen our communities by allowing seasonal and small businesses to have an adequate, legal workforce.