Federal Regulations Squeeze Gulf Shrimp, Oyster Producers

Will requiring H2B visas for migrant workers raise the cost of seafood?


By Alain StephensApril 6, 2015 8:24 am

Did you grill any Gulf Shrimp over the weekend? Some of the companies that catch those shrimp are now arguing that new hiring requirements could cripple their businesses and lead to a rise in the cost of seafood at the grocery store.

This comes down to hiring migrant workers under H2B visas, which have been under scrutiny for the last year after requiring employers to pay workers a national standard. Employers have argued that these new requirements may cripple their businesses and lead to a rise in the cost of their products.

Clifford Hillman, President of Hillman Shrimp and Oyster Company in Dickinson, Texas says that these federal regulations overall make it difficult to find workers.

“The push by the administration is attempting to make it so difficult to be a part of this visa worker program that you’ll hire American workers,” Hillman says. “What they don’t seem to understand-or don’t seem to want to believe, at least- is that there are certain jobs in this country that American workers will not do.”

But critics of the visa program say American workers would do the job if they paid higher wages.

An arbitrary cap limits the number of H2B employees that can be hired in the United States to 66,000 annually. Last year, Texas accounted for the largest percentage of visa workers at about 15%.