labor contractor

Florida Labor Contractor Cited in Orange Harvester Death

Daniel CooperLabor, Regulation, Weather

A federal workplace safety investigation found a Florida labor contractor could have prevented the fatal illness of a 41-year-old worker who collapsed while harvesting oranges at Alico Farms in December 2023. According to investigators, the incident could have been avoided if the required steps to protect employees from hazards associated with high temperatures were taken.  Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor’s …

toolkit

Heat-Related Illness Toolkit Available

Daniel CooperLabor, Weather

The Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (SCCAHS) and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) have created an online toolkit to help protect agricultural workers from the summer heat. Last year’s sweltering summer temperatures convinced SCCAHS leadership that additional promotion about heat-related illness education could save lives. Even before the summer ended, the …

Farmworker Protection Rule

Lawsuit Challenges Farmworker Protection Rule

Daniel CooperLabor, Legal, Regulation

A coalition of states, including Florida and Georgia, recently joined a lawsuit filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) challenging the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Farmworker Protection Rule. DOL announced the final rule in late April, saying it would strengthen protections for farmworkers in the H-2A program. The Farmworker Protection Rule will become effective June 28, 2024. SLF is …

rule

Strong Reactions to Farmworker Protection Rule

Daniel CooperLabor, Regulation

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) have harshly criticized the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently announced H-2A farmworker protection rule. An AFBF statement declared that the rule “mires farm families in excessive compliance costs while disregarding privacy concerns for farmers and their employees. With this addition, DOL sets itself apart as …

final

Final H-2A Farmworker Protection Rule Announced

Daniel CooperLabor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule to strengthen protections for farmworkers. The rule targets vulnerability and abuses experienced by workers under the H-2A program. The H-2A program allows employers to hire temporary foreign agricultural workers.  Among other things, the final rule: The final rule is effective on June 28, 2024. However, H-2A applications filed before Aug. 28, 2024, …

wage

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 …

wage freeze

Legislators Seek H-2A Wage Freeze

Daniel Cooperfinancial, Labor, Legislative

Seventy-five U.S. House of Representatives members have asked House and Senate appropriations leaders for an H-2A visa guestworker wage freeze in an upcoming spending package. The text of the representatives’ letter to appropriations leaders follows: “We write with shared concerns regarding the annual adjustment to the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). Now in 2024, the H-2A labor rates paid by …

Ag Employers Want H-2A Wage Methodology Amended

Tacy CalliesLabor

The National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) has petitioned Acting Department of Labor Secretary Julie Su to amend the regulatory methodology for determining adverse effect wage rates in the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. “America’s farm and ranch families and American consumers continue to bear the brunt of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) misuse of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s …

wage

H-2A Wage Rates to Rise Again

Daniel CooperLabor

Florida’s adverse effect wage rate (AEWR), the minimum wage for H-2A agricultural workers, is estimated to climb 3% in 2024. Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) reported the new Florida AEWR is estimated to be $14.77 per hour. Georgia’s AEWR is expected to rise 7%. Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) reported Georgia’s new AEWR is estimated to be …

Brazilians Learn About Mechanical Harvesting

Josh McGillLabor, Technology

Representatives of Fundecitrus and the Brazilian citrus industry went to Seville, Spain, to participate in a meeting about mechanical harvesting of citrus. The key objective was learning about different tools and machines designed for the mechanization of citrus handling. One example of machinery is the mechanized harvesting equipment used for densely cultivated orange groves. In one of their visits, the …

Program Provides Incentives to Address Labor Challenges

Josh McGillLabor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program (FLSP). The new pilot grant program aims to improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency by addressing challenges agricultural employers face with labor shortages and instability.  “The program will provide incentives designed to simultaneously benefit workers and employers, with the potential to inform the H-2A …

FFVA: Work Needed on Miami-Dade Heat Bill

Josh McGillLabor, Regulation

The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) recently requested the rejection of Miami-Dade County’s proposed Heat Standard for Outdoor Workers. FFVA urged the county’s Community Health Committee (CHC) to engage agricultural producers in developing a meaningful and workable standard. FFVA argued that the proposed standard is intentionally broad and punitive and does not provide the support needed for implementation. The …

Rule Would Bolster H-2A Farmworker Protections

Josh McGillLabor, Regulation

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Sept. 12 proposed a new rule that would strengthen protections for temporary foreign farmworkers in the H-2A program. This is the third proposed regulation tied specifically to the H-2A program in the last year. It follows the final DOL rule published in October 2022 that modernized key aspects of the H-2A program and …

Citrus Harvesting Trends in Florida

Josh McGillEconomics, Labor

By Ariel Singerman Harvesting citrus is manual and labor intensive, making the cost of labor a key component of the cost of harvesting. The H-2A guest worker program allows companies to temporarily hire non-U.S. citizens to perform agricultural labor or services of seasonal nature. Given that domestic workers for harvesting are in short supply, harvesting companies in Florida (and other …

Adverse Effect Wage Rates Rule Challenged

Josh McGillLabor, Legal

In late February, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) pushed through a new methodology used to determine the hourly adverse effect wage rates (AEWR) for agricultural employers. The rule became effective March 30. Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) Director of Labor Relations Jamie Fussell discussed the action’s impact on growers: IMPACT ON EMPLOYERSSimply, the new rule may mean that …

H-2A Visa Fees to Increase June 17

Josh McGillLabor, Regulation

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) fees for petition-based non-immigrant visas for H-2A temporary foreign workers will increase on June 17, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) reported. The final rule from DOS will increase the H-2A visa fees by 7.9%, from $190 to $205, less than DOS originally proposed in 2022. In its original proposal, DOS would have increased …

New Dignity Act Aims to Reform Immigration and H-2A

Josh McGillLabor, Legislative

Bipartisan members of Congress led by Representatives María Elvira Salazar of Florida and Veronica Escobar of Texas on May 23 introduced an updated version of the Dignity Act (H.R. 3599). The act would reform immigration laws and streamline the H-2A program for temporary foreign workers.  The bill would aim to stop illegal immigration, provide a dignified solution for undocumented immigrants living in America and strengthen …

Actions Against H-2A Wage Rule

Josh McGillLabor, Legal, Legislative

Federal legislators have followed through on previously announced plans to try to overturn the Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule to determine wages for temporary foreign agricultural workers under the H-2A program. H-2A workers harvest a majority of Florida’s citrus crop. Legislators introduced House and Senate Congressional Review Act resolutions to nullify the DOL’s adverse effect wage rates (AEWRs) methodology rule. …

Senator Talks to Growers and Acts on H-2A

Josh McGillLabor

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) recently spoke to South Georgia citrus growers in Ochlocknee about their needs and introduced legislation to reduce a wage-rate increase in the H-2A guestworker program. The industry’s needs include shoring-up supply chains, expanding facilities to keep up with growing demand, and strengthening research on diseases and pests that pose a unique threat to citrus. “I’m …

Health and Safety Event for Florida Farmworkers

Josh McGillEvents, Labor, Safety

In their fourth such clinic, faculty from the University of Florida will test farmworkers for chronic diseases from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 23 in Arcadia. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and College of Medicine will conduct the clinic. The screenings will be at the Turner Agri-Civic Center, 2250 NE Roan Street. …