International Fresh Produce Association Comments on New USDA/DOL Data on Wages; Robert Guenther Shares
WASHINGTON, DC - Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the results of its annual Farm Labor Survey. The Department of Labor (DOL) has used this survey to determine the 2023 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR), which are wages that must be paid to H-2A workers in the United States. Some in our industry feel this data and the AEWR are not the true wage cost for those who use the H-2A program, and the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) is one organization in that camp.
“Today’s release of the Farm Labor Survey by the USDA should be a clarion call from the fresh produce industry on why Congress must act this year on agriculture immigration reform legislation,” Robert Guenther, IFPA’s Chief Public Policy Officer, commented on the survey release. “For the last two years, ramping up to the 2022 congressional mid-terms, we have heard so much rhetoric from our elected officials about the rising cost of food and inflation taking off. Next week, Congress has the ability to stop this unaffordable and unacceptable increase in wages that will cripple producers who are already suffering from high inflation.”
According to the release, the AEWR is determined by a formula developed by the DOL and claims to protect the domestic workforce from having their wages depressed by foreign agricultural workers. As a result of this survey and the DOL’s usage of the wage formula, IFPA anticipates the national AEWR will be $16.62, an increase of 6.8 percent over the current year. Across the country, individual state AEWR’s now range from $13.67 to a high of $18.65 in California. The highest single increase on a percentage basis was in Florida, where the AEWR increased by almost 15.5 percent.
“When Congress returns after the Thanksgiving holiday, they can put a stop to this assault on our members and the fresh produce industry by passing a much-needed immigration reform, which will not only help the farmers who grow our food but the consumers who buy it,” continued Guenther. “Whether they will listen to the 100 million people who voted in the 2022 election or not is up to them.”
IFPA has long championed the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would put an annual cap on increases to the AEWR, and is currently working with Senators from both parties to pass companion legislation that would do the same. Additionally, IFPA will continue its efforts to push Congress to pass legislation before the end of the year to prevent them from becoming law, continued the release.
Keep an eye on ANUK as we report on the latest in our industry.