Below are reflections of our startup journey participating in the Floodgate Reactor Program. We have strong opinions, loosely held and while these opinions reflect our current state of mind and understanding of the world might change as we continue our entrepreneurial journeys.


H-2A is a US government program that allows farmers to bring foreign seasonal agricultural labor to the US. To learn more about the H-2A program, check out our other blog posts or the link here. In this blog post, we will describe some ideas about what should be improved in the H-2A process.

Automated Documents

Filing the necessary documents to apply for the H-2A program is tedious and expensive. Completing the paperwork for hiring H-2A workers involves communicating with four government agencies. For each application, the farm must file a job order with the state workforce agency, file the temporary employment certification with the DOL, oversee that the domestic recruiting is done correctly, and verify that the housing for employees is up to regulations. Because of how complicated this is, most people use attorneys or preparers to help them fill out the documents. However, these third-party services are expensive and typically cost around $$$10k.

By leveraging document automation software, we believe that it is possible to fill out the forms automatically, then have an attorney review the key sections only. Overall, this would mean that the attorney would have to do less work and therefore would mean a cheaper cost for doing paperwork.

Furthermore, we have seen that the H-2A application is very similar year over year. However, most attorneys and preparers charge the same fee each year. We believe that by using information from past year’s applications, the process of generating new paperwork for an H-2A application is much easier and should therefore cost less.

Talent Marketplace

As we wrote about in other blog posts, there are many problems with the program that impact both farmers and workers. We believe that more transparency into the hiring process could improve the quality of labor and reduce abuses. When farmers hire H-2A workers, they want people who have worked on farms before and ideally are familiar with the specific crop they are growing. A common misconception about H-2A is that it is “unskilled” labor. In fact, there are many nuances to picking different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, we believe that foreign workers should have more say into which farm they work on. They should be able to access data about past abuses of the H-2A program for each farm and be able to filter by pay.

In the future, we envision a talent marketplace where farms can find the best workers and workers can find the best farms. We believe a marketplace is a good solution since this is a two-sided issue: farms want the best workers and workers want to work in the best farm. The current way that recruiting is done offers little transparency and choice into which candidates the farmers will get and which farm workers will be working at.

For farmers, some things we think are important to know about workers before hiring them are their experience, which languages they speak, and how long they want to work in the US. For workers, we believe it is important to know which farms have a history of abuse and malpractice and which farms pay the most. A marketplace solution could improve the hiring process for everyone involved.

Technology-Enabled Recruiting

The current recruiting process for H-2A is fractured and fraudulent. For more details on the fraudulent aspects of H-2A recruiting, check out our “Challenges” blog post. Currently, there are many recruiting entities and some advertise jobs that may not exist, or illegally charge foreign workers money. We believe that recruiting can be done better and at a low cost by using technology-enabled solutions.

We believe that a recruiting solution that is integrated with existing social media groups on social media platforms like Facebook and chats on WhatsApp would be able to reach many prospective candidates. By using automated intake forms by using the WhatsApp API, recruiting could be done cheaply and efficiently.

During our interviews with employers, it seems like a majority of their workforce are returning year after year. When the demand for labor grows, traditionally the labor crew has a “pseudo-leader” who is able to find additional workers who are usually relatives of members of the crew or living in the same hometown. We hypothesize that a majority of the recruiting is done organically through social media and then primarily through referrals. We believe that a referral network could exponentially increase the ability to identify prospective candidates. By creating shareable, forwardable, WhatsApp-friendly landing pages with small rewards for referrals, it can democratize the ability for people to recruit their community and family/friends.

Better Housing Solutions

Through our conversations with farmers, we found that a consistently difficult part of the H-2A program was providing housing for workers. This is a requirement for the program, and finding affordable housing is difficult, especially with housing codes in states like California that sometimes prevent new houses from being built at all.

We believe that this is a difficult problem, and the path forward to improving housing availability is not clear. Here are some ideas of ways to make affordable housing more accessible:

  1. Motels: We believe that using existing housing such as motels could be a fruitful avenue for providing affordable housing for workers. Booking all their rooms for 6 or 9 months at a flat rate may be cheap enough for farmers to pay to use the motels for their temporary workers. Furthermore, the motels would be able to cut costs by not employing as many cleaning staff and hospitality workers since H-2A workers do not need their rooms cleaned and in general do not need as much service.
  2. Unused houses on farms: Many farms that do not use H-2A often have extra housing facilities on their farms. These facilities could be rented to nearby farms that do use H-2A, providing extra income to farms that do not use the program and affordable housing for farms that do.
  3. Modular housing units: Many farms struggle to quickly build the housing required. Perhaps there are novel ways to navigate building permits by building modular, prefabricated housing units using homes provided by people like:
  4. Trailer park: Perhaps purchasing a trailer park lot which has the correct permitting and then supplying trailer park homes for the workers could be an affordable housing option.


In this blog post, we have discussed many avenues forward for improving the current state of the H-2A program. To recap, the ideas are to automate the documentation required to apply for H-2A, building a talent marketplace to connect farmers to labor, using technology to recruit more effectively, and build better housing solutions.