wage freeze

Legislators Seek H-2A Wage Freeze

Daniel Cooper financial, 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 Callies Labor

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 Cooper Labor

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 McGill Labor, 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 McGill Labor

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 McGill Labor, 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 McGill Labor, 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 McGill Economics, 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 McGill Labor, 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 McGill Labor, 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 McGill Labor, 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 McGill Labor, 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 McGill Labor

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 McGill Events, 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. …

Federal Omnibus Deal Fails to Include Farm Labor Act

Josh McGill Labor, Legislative

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill. The $1.7 trillion measure would fund the federal government through the remainder of 2023. The measure now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote to avoid a government shutdown on the evening of Dec. 23. Much to the dismay of farm groups nationwide, the Senate Affordable …

Affordable and Secure Food Act Introduced in Senate

Josh McGill Labor, Legislative

Update as of Dec. 22, 2022: The current 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill does not include the Affordable and Secure Food Act. Bill sponsors and farm groups had urged its inclusion.  “Congress has once again failed to deliver the reforms that the fresh produce industry and its agricultural allies have long fought for. International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) did its part …

wage

Basics of the H-2A Final Rule

Josh McGill Labor, Regulation

The 2022 H-2A program final rule was published Oct. 12 and became effective Nov. 14. The vast majority of Florida citrus is harvested by temporary foreign workers within the H-2A program, so the rule has many implications for the state’s citrus industry. Jamie Fussell, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association director of labor relations, discussed the final rule during the Nov. …

H-2A Labor Program Amended

Josh McGill Labor, Regulation

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to amend H-2A temporary labor certification regulations to better protect agricultural workers and to update the application and certification process. The final rule becomes effective Nov. 14, 2022. The H-2A program allows employers to address temporary labor needs by employing foreign agricultural workers when there are not sufficient workers who are …

H-2A Flexibilities Offered After Hurricane Ian

Josh McGill hurricane, Labor, Regulation

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification has provided Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) with general guidance regarding additional flexibilities for H-2A employers impacted by Hurricane Ian. Most Florida citrus is harvested by temporary H-2A workers. Following is a summary of the DOL answers to four questions about H-2A employer flexibilities due to the hurricane’s …

Solution Sought for Lack of Australian Labor and Housing

Josh McGill International, Labor

Citrus Australia has asked Victorian Premier Dan Andrews to appoint a commissioner of horticultural labor and accommodation to manage solutions to a current horticulture crisis. Nathan Hancock, Citrus Australia’s chief executive officer, said extreme shortages in both labor and housing will get worse without direct intervention. “These issues (labor and housing shortages) are having a significant impact on the current and …