Dec 16, 2022Georgia growers group supports ag labor bill
The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) is commending a U.S. Senate ag labor bill.
The Affordable and Secure Food Act of 2022 aims to provide reliable, legal farm labor, lower food prices for American families and secure the U.S. food supply. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and the companion U.S. House version was supported by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.).
“Yesterday, the Senate introduced its version of the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA),” the GFVGA said in a statement. “The bill is similar to FWMA, creating a path to legal status for undocumented farmworkers through a Certified Ag Worker program, freezing the AEWR (Adverse Effect Wage Rates) for 2023 and capping future increases to 3% annually, and mandating E-verify on the agriculture industry.”
“While the bill does not go far enough to improve all our issues with the H-2A program, this legislation will freeze the AEWR at 2022 rates for one year, cap future increases by 3%, and pre-empt disaggregation,” the LaGrange, Georgia, growers group said. “It would also open the H-2A program to cooperatives, and create 26,000 year-round visas, with opportunities for annual cap increases.”
“GFVGA supports the bill primarily for the AEWR freeze, as it would pre-empt the 2023 AEWR increase of 14% for Georgia growers,” GFVGA said.
Because of a limited time for the Senate to pass the bill prior to adjournment the week of Dec. 19, GFVGA urges members to contact their congressional representatives.
On Dec. 15, the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), USApple and Western Growers came out in support of the senate bill, saying it would help ease crippling labor shortages and provide certainty for American agricultural producers and farmers desperately in need of reliable, legal workers.
On Dec. 7, GFVGA issued a call to action on the impending H-2A wage increase.
Bennet and Newhouse are seeking to have immigration protections added to the omnibus appropriations bill currently being negotiated in Congress.