Use of MIP for planning temporary immigrant farm labor force

C. Wishon, J. R. Villalobos, N. Mason, H. Flores, G. Lujan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Growers of many fruit and vegetable crops in the US are heavily reliant on hand labor to perform all of the necessary operations throughout the growing season. When the current supply of domestic hand labor is insufficient, growers can employ nonimmigrant foreign workers through the H-2A visa program to perform any additional agricultural tasks. A common criticism of the program is that it is an onerous process that places the burden of proof on growers and requires them to demonstrate that there is a shortage of domestic workers. This requires growers to start their employment decision-making months before the growing season starts, using limited knowledge about the upcoming season. Since no labor-focused decision making tools exists for growers, a mixed integer programming model is presented in this article which develops tactical level planting, harvesting, and labor acquisition schedules for use by growers to determine the appropriate number of H-2A workers needed. This formulation is applied to an "average" farm in the Yuma, Arizona region as a case study. In addition, the study is extended to show how the model can be employed as a regulatory tool to determine the economic impact from modifying the H-2A application policy. This analysis in the Yuma region demonstrated that increasing the H-2A program provides a positive economic incentive offset by moderate domestic job displacement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
StatePublished - 2015


  • Efficiency
  • H2A visa
  • Immigration
  • Tactical agricultural planning
  • Temporary farm worker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of MIP for planning temporary immigrant farm labor force'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this