Friday, February 2, 2024
Supporting Farm Operations Act Introduced in Congress
The Supporting Farm Operations Act, H.R. 7046, was introduced in the U.S. House Representatives last week. It seeks to address the high cost of agricultural labor by freezing the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). Introduced by Congressman John Moolenaar, the proposed legislation would freeze the AEWR for H-2A nonimmigrant workers for two years. Wages established in 2023 would be maintained until the end of 2025.
Several agricultural industry groups have expressed support for the legislation, noting the continually increasing cost of farm labor. American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Government Affairs, John Walt Boatright said the legislation would offer some short-term relief to uncertainty in the labor market. “It’s a step in the right direction to creating a wage standard that benefits farmers and employees alike. Along with this effort, AFBF will continue to press Congress on the full reforms that deliver certainty and parity to farmers who produce food for America’s families,” Boatright noted.
Moolenaar was also among more than 70 lawmakers who recently raised the issue of the AEWR with House and Senate appropriations leaders. The AEWR has been increasing steadily over the past 20 years, more than doubling since 2005 to a national average of $17.55 an hour in 2024. Other groups including the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the U.S. Apple Association have also highlighted a need for adjusting the AEWR through the Supporting Farm Operations Act.
“This Bill is not everything we need, but it is a necessary step, and one that Congress can, and must, take to provide immediate relief to farmers across the country,” Director of US Government Relations for the International Fresh Produce Association, John Hollay said in a press release. “Congress has failed for more than four decades to address the agriculture labor crisis. While we will continue to push for the system wide reform that is needed, this bill can provide immediate relief and ensure that we do not lose any more farms across America.”
Source: Ag Net West