Breaking Beans Radio Show #31: H2A Workers in Kentucky

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 was passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 260 to 165 on December 11th, 2019. The bill will now move to the Senate as it continues through the legislative process in Congress. This bipartisan bill aims to make some changes to the H2A program and aid undocumented farmworkers in the United States.  According to the Kentucky Career Center, over 763 Kentucky farmers are utilizing the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program bringing over 3,500 guest workers into Kentucky. The H-2A visa program helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries.

In this hour, listeners will hear several perspectives on H2A in Kentucky. Ben Abell of RootBound Farm in Oldham Co. and Ford Waterstrat of Sustainable Harvest in London, Ky, talked about their experiences with maintaining farm labor and having H2A workers on their farms the past two seasons. Juan Carlos, one of the H2A workers at RootBound Farm shares what the program means to him, and Stephen Barlett of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee talk a little bit about the issues that farmworkers face.

Photo: Ford Waterstrat & Family, Sustainable Harvest Farm

Photo: Ben Abell, RootBound Farm

Photo: Juan Carlos, RootBound Farm

Currently, we are standing up against Senate Bill 1 for a full op-ed by featured guests, Ben Abell and Bree Pearsall, visit the Community Farm Alliance website at cfaky.org/take-action/. To take action in protecting our immigrant neighbors and agricultural communities. Call 1-800-372-7181 and ask your Senator to vote NO on SB 1.


Resources Used in this Episode:

The Farms:

Sustainable Harvest Farm

RootBound Farm

Elmwood Stockfarm


Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC): http://www.floc.com/wordpress/


Information about the H2A program: https://www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a


H2A Program in KY:



Information about H.R. 5038 Work Force Modernization Act:


Farm Worker Modernization Act One Pager