A behind-the-scenes look at Phillip Minnaar, H-2A Program Participant

Apr 19, 2024

Phillip Minnaar’s journey with agriculture began long before he joined the Innovative Ag Services team through the H-2A program. Growing up on a farm, agriculture runs deep in his veins. “Both of my mother’s brothers are farmers,” Phillip shares. “They used to do dairy farming, but due to some circumstances, they both stopped that. Now, they plant only corn and sunflowers.”

For Phillip, the allure of the United States was not just about seeking better opportunities but also about learning from the technological advancements in farming that the country boasts. “The US is way ahead of any other country that I know of, and it’s to take a bit of that knowledge back home,” he explains.

Transitioning from his farming roots in South Africa to the agricultural landscape of Iowa has been a journey of adaptation, particularly in embracing the technological advancements prevalent in American farming practices. “Everything is mostly push by button now when you’re inside a big tractor or big spreader or applicator,” Phillip notes. While the fundamentals of working with his hands remain consistent, the integration of technology has been a significant learning curve.

Despite the technological advancements, Phillip finds solace in the diversity of tasks and the opportunity to explore different facets of farming. “You get to do different things all the time,” he remarks. “It’s not the same thing day today. You’re outside seeing the country, working with different kinds of people.”

Phillip’s experience in Iowa has been enriched not just by the agricultural exposure but also by the warmth and camaraderie of the people he has encountered. “All the people that I’ve met so far, are so friendly and so helpful,” he shares.

Reflecting on his time with Innovative Ag Services, Phillip expresses gratitude for the opportunities afforded to him, including obtaining his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and applicator license. “Having the opportunity to get my CDL and applicator license the first season that I was here... I think it’s quite an accomplishment,” he says. The support provided by Innovative Ag Services has made his transition smoother, offering study materials and access to training programs.

For Phillip, Innovative Ag Services transcends being merely a workplace; it embodies the spirit of family. “Innovative services? Definitely like a family,” he affirms.

As Phillip continues his journey with Innovative Ag Services, his story serves as a testament to the transformative power of the H-2A program in fostering global collaboration and knowledge exchange in the realm of agriculture.

If you’re curious to learn more about Phillip Minnaar’s experience with the H-2A program and Innovative Ag Services, visit innovativeag.com today and watch the video featuring Phillip. Join him in exploring the intersection of tradition and innovation in agriculture, where every day presents a new opportunity for growth and learning.


Frequently Asked Questions about the H-2A Program

What is the H-2A program? The H-2A temporary agricultural program helps employers who lack available domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform seasonal agricultural work. Covid accelerated the ongoing challenges in recruiting a reliable workforce. This worker shortage has impacted our ability to service our customers and impacted our remaining employees. In the summer of 2022, IAS applied to participate in this program to supplement our workforce. In the spring of 2023, our first H-2A employees started to arrive. 2024 marks our second year using the program.

Who do you work with to bring the workers to the U.S.? We are working with USA Farms based in North Carolina.

What country are you recruiting from? South Africa.

How many H-2A workers does IAS employ? 22 participants: 11 located in our western geography and 11 in our eastern geography.

How do you decide who to hire? We work through the USA Farms employment portal, which lists all available candidates. This portal provides an extensive work history on the candidates, their skill set, and education, including previous reviews from past employers. Once chosen for an interview, candidates will be interviewed by the VP of HR and regional management at IAS by phone or virtually.

What kind of experience do H-2A program participants have? All participants can read, write and speak fluent English. Most have agricultural experience running farm equipment and working on farms in their home country. Some also hold certifications or degrees in mechanics, plumbing and electrical.

What process must potential employees undergo to be employed in the United States? All hires must pass a strict Visa approval process to leave their home country, including having no criminal history. Upon arrival in the country, they must be registered with Homeland Security to ensure our government knows their whereabouts while in the U.S.

What kind of work will the H-2A employees be doing for IAS? The employees being hired are doing all the agronomic seasonal activities we need them to—anything to prepare for servicing our customers. This includes Custom Applicator Licensing so that they are versatile and can apply products for our customers on their farms.

How long do you employ the H-2A workers? In our first year, they were here for seven months; starting in 2024, they will be with us from February through November for ten months each year.

Does the H-2A replace current domestic recruitment efforts? The H-2A program compliments, not replaces, our ongoing recruiting efforts in the United States.

How successful has the program been? H-2A program participants are positive, eager to learn, grateful for the opportunity, and have an incredible work ethic. They have been a great addition to the IAS teams they are working with. Our full-time employees and their families appreciate the people in the H-2A program. Plus, the H-2A program allows IAS to operate much closer to our full staffing levels.

Why do I, as a customer, need to sign this delivery/quantity contract for the H-2A program? Obtaining this document is a government requirement of the program. By signing the form, you acknowledge that we have an H-2A program and that an H-2A worker may be working on your farm as an employee of IAS, and you are okay with them doing the work or delivering the product you have purchased from IAS.

Watch what Phillip has to say about H-2A program and IAS

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