The newly implemented Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) will negatively impact specialty crop producers across the U.S. That’s the belief shared by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
“We are disappointed in DOL’s (Department of Labor) final rule on the AEWR methodology,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “This administration says it wants to help family farms, but its agency largely ignored industry input in favor of a new calculus that will hurt small farms the most. Labor already accounts for almost 40% of total production costs on some farms, and the final rule will certainly continue to raise costs for farm families. Congressional action is the only way to deliver needed certainty and fairness to the farm economy.”
Nearly 600 farm organizations and agribusinesses have urged Congress to support a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which is expected to be introduced in the near future. The bipartisan Farm Operations Support Act in the Senate would temporarily reset AEWR at its 2022 levels.
The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, which comprises organizations and specialty interest groups across the country, like AFBF, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and Georgia Peach Council, sent a letter to leaders in Washington D.C. last week, urging for immediate congressional action.
“The DOL’s regulation comes at a time when American farmers are reeling due to record high costs of production that have translated into thin and even negative margins, conditions the new regulation will greatly exacerbate,” the letter read. “Moreover, the regulation further complicates an already complex program and creates legal uncertainty for farmers who comply with requirements in good faith. The Department of Labor has also managed to develop a regulation that it, too, will have great difficulty administering, making the program even more cumbersome for farmers, many of whom produce perishable goods whose handling cannot wait on bureaucracy.
“Because of the H-2A program’s critical importance to America’s farmers, key reforms to the program that would make it work more effectively for farmers on the ground would be very beneficial. Unfortunately, the new regulation would take the program in the opposite direction, harming the farmers who depend on it.
“Please cosponsor and support the disapproval resolutions.”
The letter was addressed to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
Read industry letter here.