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ND farmer debarred from temporary ag worker program

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BOWMAN, ND –  The U.S. Department of Labor has debarred a North Dakota grain and cattle farming operation for three years from participating in the temporary ag worker visa program.

The department said Lambourn Farm in the far southwest corner of the state near Bowman violated the H-2A program provisions and failed to cooperate with department investigators.

The program allows employers to bring non-immigrant, foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor.

Violations against the farm include requiring employees to pay prohibited fees, failing to pay employees required wage rates, not providing safe transportation and housing and failing to maintain required records. Investigators also found two employees were owed $1,159 in back wages.

The company has paid the back wages and $18,587 in civil monetary penalties, the department said.

“When employers apply for worker visas, they agree to demonstrate that they meet program requirements,” said the department’s Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Betty Campbell. “Employers who don’t play by the rules may gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. Our enforcement protects American workers as well as the safety of temporary workers.”

In the program, an employer must file an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stating that there are not sufficient U.S. employees who are able, willing, qualified and available. The application must also state that the employment of non-immigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed persons in the U.S.  

Last year,  the department processed 1,372 H-2A applications in North Dakota.