By Frank Giles
On Dec. 22, the U.S. Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill. The $1.7 trillion measure would fund the federal government through the remainder of 2023. The measure now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote to avoid a government shutdown on the evening of Dec. 23.
Much to the dismay of farm groups nationwide, the Senate Affordable and Secure Food Act was not included in the omnibus. The act would have reformed the H-2A program. More importantly, it would have capped the adverse effect wage rage (AEWR), which is set to see dramatic increases in Florida and Georgia.
Once again, farm labor reform gets kicked down the road. The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) was among the groups expressing disappointment.
“We were hopeful to see action on ag labor reform this Congress and are disappointed the Affordable and Secure Food Act of 2022 did not make it into the omnibus spending package,” FFVA said in a statement.
“The reality is agriculture is dealing with a domestic workforce crisis. Without a workforce, farmers can’t continue to farm. That’s why FFVA has long supported a solution that will provide American farmers with a legal, stable workforce to plant and harvest crops. With the increase in the AEWR in Florida to $14.33 (effective Jan. 1), the sense of urgency for a solution is even greater.
“Once again, we remain committed to working with the next Congress to move forward a solution that resolves, once and for all, the American agricultural labor crisis.”
Disaster relief was included in the omnibus package. FFVA representatives said they are studying the legislation for its impact on growers affected by this season’s hurricanes.