Final H-2A wage rule raising concerns

Ag groups are disappointed in the Department of Labor’s final wage rule for the H-2A seasonal farm worker program and say it ignores their recommendations.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s John Kran tells Brownfield the methodology used to determine Adverse Effect Wage Rates for guest workers adds costs that will make it difficult for some farmers to use the program.

“We’re putting our farmers in a position where they’re going to have to in some cases close their doors and we’re going to have to rely on foreign countries, workers in other countries, to produce these fruits and vegetables for us,” he says. “That’s a national security issue, that’s something everyone should be concerned about.”

He says rates have increased more than 30 percent in the last five years.

“If you look at the Adverse Effect Wage Rate specifically for Michigan and some of our surrounding states, it went up almost $2 from 2022 to 2023—that’s a 12.8 percent increase in one year,” he shares.

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, which includes more than 70 organizations including the American Farm Bureau, and the National Council of Agricultural Employers are also concerned about the rule’s impacts.

Meanwhile, the United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation welcome the decision, saying it will protect the wages and job opportunities of U.S.-based ag workers and ensure the fair treatment of H-2A Guest Workers.

The new rule takes effect on March 30th this year.

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