Shrimper shortage: Lack of foreign workers puts Texas shrimp industry in bind

The Texas shrimp industry, struggling for years against high fuel prices and cheap foreign imports, faces a new crisis: a major shortage of the temporary foreign workers that boat owners and processing plants depend on to operate. The shortage is the result of Congress not renewing the H-2B Returning Worker Program when it expired at the end of September. Congress created the exemption in 2015 to help industries like seafood, landscaping and hospitality fill essential jobs.The exemption was established after the government in 2005 instituted an annual cap of 66,000 H-2B foreign worker visas, in response to a surge in H-2B applications from employers since the program started during the late 1980s. The cap is divided equally among the two halves of the fiscal year — 33,000 the first half and 33,000 the last. As part of the H-2B application process, the government requires employers first to advertise the jobs to U.S. workers. In the case of the shrimp industry, however, it’s very difficult to find U.S. workers willing to do the work. The Rio Grande Valley’s shrimp industry increasingly has had to rely on shrimp boat workers from Mexico, who tend to have experience and in some cases have worked on the same U.S. boats for two decades or more. continue reading the story here 15:12