Farmworker Advisory Council Created

Ernie NeffLabor

citrus

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 … Read More

Migrant Housing Project Rejected

Ashley RobinsonLabor

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 … Read More

Department of Labor Targeting Southeast Agriculture

Ernie NeffLabor

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, … Read More

H-2A Wage Freeze Blocked

Tacy CalliesLabor

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 … Read More

Program to Protect California Ag Workers Expands Again

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, Labor

florida

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: … Read More

More COVID-19 Tests for Florida Ag Workers

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Labor

town hall

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 … Read More

H-2A Wage Decision Commended

Ernie NeffLabor

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 … Read More

Keeping Farmworkers Safe From COVID-19

Ernie NeffCOVID-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), … Read More

H-2A Program Updates

Tacy CalliesLabor, 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 … Read More

Housing for the Harvest Program Expands

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, Labor

orange

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 … Read More

More COVID-19 Protection Needed for Ag

Tacy CalliesCOVID-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 … Read More

COVID-19 Testing for Florida Farmworkers

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Labor

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced new efforts to provide COVID-19 testing for farmworkers as the fall harvest season begins. The efforts are in partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and local county governments. Farmworkers will have access to numerous no-cost COVID-19 testing events in some … Read More

Florida Crop Workers at Risk

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Labor

As laborers return to the fields this fall in Florida, both unauthorized crop workers and H-2A workers are vulnerable to the coronavirus. According to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) study, an estimated 75 percent of Florida crop workers have at least one underlying health issue that puts them at risk of developing COVID-19 … Read More

California Introduces Housing for the Harvest

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, Labor

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that Housing for the Harvest is underway in Fresno and other Central Valley counties. This is a new program designed 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. The state is securing hotel rooms in participating counties like Fresno and … Read More

COVID-19 and Farm Labor

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Labor

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is encouraging growers to ensure that the farm labor contractors with whom they work pledge to implement COVID-19 workplace safety guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDACS issued an addendum to be signed by farm labor contractors (see here) and a training acknowledgment form to be signed … Read More

Making the H-2A Process Easier

Ernie NeffLabor

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced new features on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers.gov website designed to help facilitate the employment of H-2A workers. The vast majority of Florida citrus is harvested by temporary foreign workers employed through the H-2A program.   “USDA’s goal is to help farmers navigate the complex H-2A program that is administered by … Read More

Australia Citrus Harvest to Resume

Tacy CalliesInternational, Labor

Citrus Australia is relieved the citrus harvest in New South Wales (NSW) can resume following the NSW government’s decision to overturn its ban on seasonal workers overnight. Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock has urged the government to consult with relevant communities and industries before making such drastic changes in the future. As of Thursday night, seasonal workers who reside in … Read More

Labor Ban Costs Australia Growers Millions

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, International, Labor

On July 27, Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said a ban on citrus workers entering New South Wales (NSW) is costing growers $1.7 million a day. Hancock has urged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to consult with industry and cancel the ban that is keeping out seasonal harvesters. The restriction on harvesters entering NSW was instituted to curtail the spread of … Read More

COVID-19 Restriction Puts Australian Citrus at Risk

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, International, Labor

Citrus Australia says a newly enacted border zone instituted to curtail the spread of COVID-19 will result in citrus crops rotting if seasonal harvesters can’t get into New South Wales (NSW) quickly. The new border zone along the Murray River will tighten restrictions for entry from Victoria into NSW. “Although the agriculture industry has been defined as a critical service, … Read More

H-2A Change May Aid Growers

Ernie NeffLabor

A temporary final rule change to some H-2A requirements is intended to help citrus and other agricultural employers avoid disruptions to their labor forces, protect the food supply and lessen impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. The rule change was announced by the Department of Homeland Security with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Temporary foreign H-2A workers make … Read More