Published: Oct 18, 2013 3:27 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 18, 2013 3:41 PM EDT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Sen. Bill Nelson and a handful of other lawmakers are asking the Department of Labor, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the State Department to speed up the processing of agricultural visas so crops aren't left to rot.
    
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and other federal officials Friday, Nelson and nine other senators said the recent government shutdown slowed the processing of visa petitions for foreign agricultural workers.
    
The senators add that they've heard from growers that delays could prevent them from getting the needed workers during harvest season, which could result in economic harm and crop losses.
    
The voluntary H-2A program allows employers to hire and bring foreign workers to the U.S. for seasonal work when there's a shortage of domestic employees.

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