Nov 29, 2022FFVA comments on rising farm labor rates
Noting expected hikes in Florida farm labor rates, the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association is weighing in on how growers are being affected by rising labor costs. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released data from its yearly farm wages report.
Information from USDA’s Farm Labor Survey is used to calculate the 2023 Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), which determines minimum wages for H-2A workers in states. FFVA commented on the survey results and what it means to Florida growers.
“The USDA released the results of its most recent Farm Labor Survey, and once again, the critical need for ag labor reform to stabilize wages is affirmed,” FFVA stated in the Nov. 28 news release. “As in year’s past, the survey will be used by the U.S. Department of Labor to determine next year’s AEWR. Shockingly, Florida’s new AEWR is projected to climb by nearly 15.5% to $14.33, up from $12.41 just a year ago. That’s more than double the total U.S. average for increases in the AEWR and puts Florida facing the largest increase of any area.”
“This news comes at a time when Florida growers are facing rising input costs like never before,” FFVA stated. “The continued use of the Farm Labor Survey as the methodology to set wages only seeks to further squeeze growers and is not sustainable. If we are to keep producing a reliable, safe and abundant domestic food supply, we must modernize the H-2A visa program to align with current agricultural practices and remove outdated barriers that restrict access for Florida’s seasonal growers.
“We understand the Senate is making progress on a possible companion bill to the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act and would strongly urge swift action so that farmers can continue putting nutritious food on the tables of American consumers.”
Other groups, including the International Fresh Produce Association, also decried the rising labor rates.