Barley is harvested in the US state of Washington.

South African farm workers have be exempted from a wide-ranging travel ban to the US, instituted last week by President Joe Biden in an attempt stop the spread of coronavirus variant 501Y.V2.

Biden signed an executive order barring most travel from South Africa, and a number of other countries, last week Monday. The ban came into effect over the weekend. 

The US State Department has clarified that South Africans seeking work into the US under the H-2 visa programme in industries such as seafood processing and farming may be considered for a national interest exception.

“Applicants who are applying for a visa will be considered for an exception at the time of interview,” said the department in a statement.  

“Farm workers from South Africa bring valuable and unique skills to the farms on which they are employed. America’s farmers rely on the H-2A program to provide a robust workforce and we are committed to ensuring their safety while continuing to provide healthy, affordable food for families across the country,” said Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in a statement. 

“America’s farmers rely on the H-2A program to provide a robust workforce and we are committed to ensuring their safety while continuing to provide healthy, affordable food for families across the country.”

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