Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) is working to reverse this year’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) increase.
Sens. Ossoff and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the bipartisan Farm Operations Support Act, which would revert the AEWR to the December 2022 rate for the remainder of 2023.
The AEWR in Georgia rose 14% from $11.99/hour to $13.67/hour in January 2023. The 14% increase for the Southeast was the second-highest percentage increase nationally, after Florida.
The AEWR in North Carolina rose 5% from $14.16/hour to $14.91/hour in January 2023.
“The AEWR formula is imposing on Georgia farmers a sudden and massive increase in costs. The whole country depends upon Georgia farmers for food supply. I’m leading this bipartisan legislation to prevent damage to Georgia’s agricultural producers,” Sen. Ossoff said.
Quote From Sen. Tillis
“From crippling labor shortages to skyrocketing input costs, farmers in North Carolina and across the country are facing unprecedented challenges,” said Senator Tillis. “The H-2A visa program has long been a last-resort option for farmers as a legal and reliable source of labor to plant, grow, and harvest their crops; however, the wage rate farmers are required to pay by the Department of Labor has long outpaced the rate of inflation and become unsustainable. This year’s increase has only exacerbated the current national labor crisis. While our farmers need broader programmatic reforms, this necessary legislation will give temporary relief to their rapidly rising input costs while maintaining worker pay and protections and allow U.S. farmers to continue doing what they do best—producing the safest, most abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber in the world.”
The AEWR has increased steadily for the last nine years. Many farmers have said this year’s increase is unsustainable on top of rising input costs and other inflationary challenges.
Sen. Ossoff met with farmers and growers from key agricultural industries this week as Congress begins working on this year’s Farm Bill, key legislation reauthorized every five years that includes key programs, such as agricultural research, crop insurance, commodity pricing and more.