Senators Call for Freeze on H-2A Wage Rate

Daniel CooperLabor, Legislative


Sixteen U.S. senators recently introduced a bill to revert the H-2A program’s adverse effect wage rate (AEWR) to the December 2023 rate through the end of the 2025 growing season. Two of the senators who introduced the Supporting Farm Operations Act of 2024 are from citrus-producing states — Rick Scott of Florida and John Cornyn of Texas. A majority of Florida’s citrus crop is harvested by temporary foreign H-2A workers. 

AEWRs are the minimum hourly wage rates that must be offered and paid by employers to H-2A workers and workers in corresponding employment.

Numerous agriculture organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA), support the bill.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the bill “takes a step toward creating a wage standard that benefits farmers and employees while ensuring farms can stay afloat.”

Some who introduced the bill, including Scott, were among 16 senators who sent a letter to Senate leadership urging it to include a freeze to the AEWR in the earliest possible legislative vehicle. 

“The increasing cost of labor for agriculture producers is unsustainable,” the letter stated. “According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the national average AEWR will be $17.55 this year. That represents an increase of 5.6% from 2023, the third year in a row the AEWR increased by over 5%. In fact, the national average AEWR has more than doubled since 2005. This is compounded by the increased costs of inputs like energy and fertilizer, other guest worker expenses such as housing and transportation, and forthcoming expenses imposed by new regulations and fees.”

Earlier this year, 75 U.S. House of Representatives members asked House and Senate appropriations leaders for an H-2A wage freeze in an upcoming spending package. Learn more about that request.

Sources: FFVA and U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho

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