Farm Bureau says new H-2A wage rule helps farmers
American Farm Bureau’s Director of Congressional Relations says the recent change to the adverse effect wage rate rule for H-2A workers will help farmers.
Allison Crittenden tells Brownfield the new rule gets away from using USDA farm labor survey data and moves to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index in 2023 with a rate freeze until then. She says that makes the wage more predictable. “Farmers were maybe reporting incentive and bonus pay on top of the base rate, so it’s created a scenario where a lot of the folks who were deeply affected by the survey’s results didn’t have a lot of confidence in the data going into it.”
Crittenden says there are ag labor concerns that still need action from Congress, such as a year-round guest worker option for dairy producers, but that will probably have to wait. “Congress has a pretty long list of to-do items with just trying to wrap up the appropriations bills, so I don’t think we’ll see any movement on ag labor in the lame-duck (session) but we look forward to hitting the ground running in the new Congress.”
Crittenden says about three percent of the farm labor force is affected by the H-2A change, and that most farmers pay above the adverse effect wage rate.