US DOL Finalizes Farmworker Protection Rule

Clint ThompsonLabor

WASHINGTON – The Department of Labor (DOL) announced on Friday a final rule to strengthen protections for farmworkers. The rule targets vulnerability and abuses experienced by workers under the H-2A program that undermine fair labor standards for all farmworkers. “H-2A workers too frequently face abusive working conditions that undercut all farmworkers in the U.S.,” said Acting Secretary Julie Su. “This …

Prompt Response: GFVGA Advises Growers to Complete Farm Labor Surveys

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Labor

By Clint Thompson The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) encourages specialty crop producers to respond promptly and accurately to labor surveys inquiring about H-2A and the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). Chris Butts, GFVGA executive director, said farmers should expect the surveys to arrive via mail at any time. Growers’ response will help leaders with the U.S. Department …

Sen. Ossoff Launches Inquiry Into USDA’s Farm Labor Survey Calculations

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Labor

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff has launched an inquiry into how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts its Farm Labor Survey in Georgia. Ossoff inquired with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), asking for more transparency in the Farm Labor Survey, which the Department of Labor uses to determine wages for H-2A workers in Georgia and …

GFVGA Webinar: Fruit, Vegetable Industries Focus of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Labor

By Clint Thompson Georgia fruit and vegetable growers should be aware that their industries have been deemed higher heat-related risks and fall under the National Emphasis Program, led by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They are subject to more inspections and broader enforcement as a result. Chris Butts, executive vice president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers …

Wage Rate

Sens. Rick Scott and Mike Crapo Urge Freeze to Ag Wage Rate

Dan CooperAgribusiness, Labor, Legislative, Specialty Crops

Sen. Rick Scott joined Sen. Mike Crapo and 14 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Senate leadership urging it include a freeze to the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) in the earliest possible legislative vehicle. Joining Senators Scott and Crapo were Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Roger …

Reps Lead Bipartisan Letter to Urge Mechanization, Automation in Farm Bill

Clint ThompsonFarm Bill, Labor

Funding for specialty crop mechanization and automation research needs to be included in the farm bill. Representatives from multiple states issued a bipartisan letter in February urging the House Agriculture Committee to include federal financial support for mechanization and automation research in the next farm bill. Specialty crop producers have long struggled with labor challenges, relying heavily on the H-2A …

Sen. Tuberville Leads Effort to Freeze AEWR

Clint ThompsonAlabama, Labor

Count U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) as one legislator trying to use his political influence to reverse recent action on the Adverse Effect Wage Rate. Along with nine other senators, Tuberville sent a letter (dated Feb. 6) to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, requesting action to freeze H-2A wage rates at the January 2023 levels and …

NASDA Members Urge U.S. Agencies to Collaborate on Strategies to Address Labor

Clint ThompsonLabor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At the 2024 Winter Policy Conference, members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) encouraged federal agencies to develop strategies that address agricultural labor shortages across the country.  The action item aims to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Labor and the United States Department of Homeland Security to immediately …

Georgia Producer: Reform Needed for H-2A

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Labor

By Clint Thompson The controversial H-2A system was a point of emphasis during the University of Georgia Ag Forecast event last week. The only reliable source of labor for specialty crop producers is also extremely expensive, almost prohibitively so for some growers. It also has stringent regulations that can be burdensome for farmers trying to stay compliant. Producers like Karla …

Transparency Needed: Legislators, Industry Leaders Want Clarification with AEWR

Clint ThompsonLabor

By Clint Thompson What started out as good intentions with the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) has evolved into a system disadvantageous to specialty crop producers. That is the mindset shared by Chris Butts, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA). AEWR was intended to protect domestic workers and their potential opportunities for employment. But since …