Delay in Work Visas May Hurt Kentucky Farmers

CAVE CITY, Ky. (WBKO) -- Several Kentucky farmers could fall behind on harvesting their crop this year.

"Times like this you're concerned about it because something has blown up and it's not helping any of the farmers," said Ray Wilcoxson.

Wilcoxson is a farm labor contractor. He serves as a middle man between local tobacco farmers and the government. At this time, he said immigrant work visas are being processed, but not printed.

"In order to get the workers in, they've got to have visas to legally work that for that farmer, and right now they're not being printed," said Wilcoxson.

It's tobacco patches like this one of the several in Barren County that belongs to Chase Farms that are ready to be harvested, but there is no one here to do it because they can't get work visas.

Wilcoxson said he's contacted several government agencies.

"You can call and they don't know themselves. It's just a quirk in the software is what we're being told," said Wilcoxson.

The State Department does have a statement on their website under Visas which says they're experiencing technical problems and "The issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document or visa category."

The note goes on to apologize to applicants, but for some local tobacco farmers that may not be enough.

Wilcoxson says that for a local farmer to get immigrant workers, there are several steps they have to go through including advertising locally for workers.

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