How to Handle Worker Heat Stress

Jim Rogers Labor, Weather

By Amir Rezazadeh Heat stress happens when the body is exposed to extreme heat in a hot environment. Heat-related illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rashes. Other signs of heat stress include sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses and dizziness. Agricultural workers are at risk of heat stress. Those who are 65 years of age or older, …

Increased Labor Law Enforcement in Southeast

Jim Rogers Agriculture, Labor, Regulation

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is continuing its multi-year education and enforcement initiative to increase compliance with federal labor laws in the Southeast’s agriculture industry. In addition to enforcement activity, the initiative provides compliance assistance to employers and educates workers and other stakeholders. The division and industry stakeholders in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, …

Grower Associations Object to H-2A Wage Methodology

Tacy Callies Economics, Labor

Florida Citrus Mutual recently published the following statement about comments it submitted regarding the wage rate for temporary foreign H-2A workers: “On January 31, 2022, Florida Citrus Mutual, along with many other agricultural entities nationwide, submitted comments to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) in reference to the proposed changes to the methodology for the adverse effect wage rate …

Sign Up Citrus Workers for Safety Program

Tacy Callies Education, Labor, Safety

Due to a surge in infections related to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) 2022 Ag Worker Safety Program is being offered virtually through June 30. It became available Feb. 1. UF/IFAS has alerted fresh citrus growers, packers and shippers about the program’s availability. This annual bilingual training is designed to …

Florida Citrus Labor Contractors Penalized

Jim Rogers Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported that three Arcadia citrus labor contractors failed to comply with the federal H-2A agricultural worker visa program, shortchanging employees $72,609 in total wages. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that Benjamin M. Ramirez Harvesting Inc., AO Harvesting LLC and Gustavo Cisneros Harvesting Inc. failed to provide H-2A employees with at least three-quarters …

New H-2A Wages Effective Dec. 29

Ernie Neff Labor

A recent issue of the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle newsletter provided information about the wage that growers must pay H-2A labor, effective Dec. 29. H-2A workers are foreign agricultural workers who are allowed to work in the United States temporarily. In recent years, the vast majority of Florida citrus has been harvested by H-2A workers. The Employment and Training Administration …

Ag Output and Labor Growth Projected

Ernie Neff Labor

Real output in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting labor sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.3% from 2020 to 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported. That’s slightly higher than the 2.2% annual growth rate projected for the entire U.S. economy. According to the report, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector …

Ag Labor Reform Hindered by Regional Differences

Tacy Callies Labor, Legislative

The issue of ag labor legislation reform will remain unresolved as long as southeastern growers and western growers don’t come to a compromise, says Bob Redding. Redding, who works for the Redding Firm and serves as a lobbyist for agricultural groups in Washington, D.C., believes compromise is the only way true reform will happen with such a contentious issue. “If …

citrus

Farmworker Advisory Council Created

Ernie Neff Labor

A Farmworker Advisory Council was recently created under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). According to FDACS, a previous statewide farmworker advisory council was established in 1979 but later disbanded. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried announced the creation of the council at a press conference at Tamiami Park in Miami. She was joined by Óscar Londoño of WeCount!, Susana …

Migrant Housing Project Rejected

Ashley Robinson Labor

In a 3-2 vote, the St. Lucie County Commission on May 4 denied a proposal by Happy Foods LLC for a conditional use to construct housing for up to 96 migrant citrus grove laborers. Happy Foods LLC, a subsidiary of IMG Citrus, proposed four 2,930-square-foot dormitory-style buildings on 7.7 acres on Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce. It would have been …

Department of Labor Targeting Southeast Agriculture

Ernie Neff Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is engaged in an education and enforcement initiative to increase compliance with federal labor laws in the Southeast’s agricultural industry. In addition to enforcement activity, the initiative provides compliance assistance to employers and educates workers and other stakeholders. The division is working with industry stakeholders in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, …

H-2A Wage Freeze Blocked

Tacy Callies Labor

A federal judge has blocked the H-2A wage freeze that the Department of Labor (DOL) announced in November. The DOL decision would have kept H-2A wages at 2020 rates through 2022. Last month, United Farm Workers (UFW) and the UFW Foundation filed a suit to block the DOL rule. U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd granted the injunction preventing DOL from …

florida

Program to Protect California Ag Workers Expands Again

Len Wilcox California Corner, COVID-19, Labor

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced that Yolo and Imperial counties are now included in the Housing for the Harvest program. This program provides temporary hotel housing for farm and food-processing employees to self-isolate if they have been exposed to COVID-19 and cannot properly self-isolate at home. Twelve counties are now participating in Housing for the Harvest: …

town hall

More COVID-19 Tests for Florida Ag Workers

Ernie Neff COVID-19, Labor

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently announced updates to COVID-19 testing sites in Hendry, Miami-Dade, Collier and St. Lucie counties for farmworkers. The effort to provide access to no-cost testing for farmworkers is part of a partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and county governments.  Testing services will continue as …

H-2A Wage Decision Commended

Ernie Neff Labor

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) commended the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for extending the 2020 Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for the H-2A program through 2022. The vast majority of Florida citrus is harvested by temporary foreign workers in the H-2A program. “We applaud the agency for recognizing that the …

Keeping Farmworkers Safe From COVID-19

Ernie Neff COVID-19, Labor

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) experts are working with farmworkers to help keep them safe from COVID-19. The experts are connecting the farmworkers with COVID-19 free testing, safety information and training – a role they have been serving throughout the pandemic. Extension agents are partnering with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), …

H-2A Program Updates

Tacy Callies Labor, Regulation

When the U.S. government announced its decision to suspend visa processing in Mexico on March 18 to combat the spread of COVID-19, growers around the country immediately expressed concerns that the action could have a major impact on agriculture and the U.S. food supply. The concern, of course, was due to the vital role that foreign workers play in the …

orange

Housing for the Harvest Program Expands

Len Wilcox California Corner, COVID-19, Labor

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced that the counties of Sacramento and San Luis Obispo are participating in Housing for the Harvest. This program was announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom in July to provide temporary hotel housing options for farm and food-processing employees to self-isolate if they are COVID-19 positive and do not require hospitalization. Counties …

More COVID-19 Protection Needed for Ag

Tacy Callies COVID-19, Labor

The nation’s essential agricultural industry has worked relentlessly through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure food is put on the tables of American families. Agricultural employers recognize that the health and safety of their employees are imperative to the success of their operations. These employers also recognize consumer demand for fresh, safe and nutritious produce. For years, agricultural employers have adhered …