The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging Congress to pass newly-introduced legislation to freeze the flawed 2023 Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). The bill aims to revamp AEWR rulings, which AFBF says distort labor costs for farmers across the country who hire nearly 400,000 employees through the H-2A program.
The bipartisan Farm Operations Support Act, introduced by Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), temporarily resets the AEWR at 2022 levels, providing much-needed wage relief to farm families and giving Congress an opportunity to deliver a fair and reasonable solution.
AFBF says that the 2023 AEWR rule missed the mark by such a wide margin that farmers in some states experienced required wage increases of more than 10 percent after smaller increases last year. In Michigan and Florida, for example, wages have increased 13 percent and 15 percent compared to 2022 rates. Furthermore, DOL’s newly published rule in February 2023 will raise costs even higher for certain occupations on farm.
The AEWR has significantly outpaced increases in the national average wage for most workers in America for most of a decade. In fact, it has outpaced the overall U.S. Employment Cost Index in eight of the last 10 years.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “Farmers are committed to paying their employees a fair wage, but the new AEWR rule used flawed data to reach a flawed conclusion. Requiring farmers to pay their workers far more than the average domestic worker is earning just makes no sense, especially in the face of high supply costs, inflation and a global food shortage. I commend Sens. Ossoff and Tillis for standing up for farmers and urge Congress to pass this critical legislation.”
The Farm Operations Support Act ensures valued farm employees are paid a consistent and fair wage without demanding farmers exceed the wage rates paid to other workers in America.
»Related: Overtime in the agriculture industry: One size can’t fit all