Jan 2, 2020
Agriculture leaders implore Senate to take action on Adverse Effect Wage Rate

With the new increased Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) going into effect Jan. 2, 2020, the National Potato Council (NPC), as part of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), called on the U.S. Senate to take up legislation to solve the agricultural labor crisis and address the flawed AEWR.

“With some states experiencing unpredictable double-digit AEWR increases in recent years, this flawed government-mandated wage rate calculation is harming American farmers and our international competitiveness,” said Kam Quarles, NPC CEO. “NPC applauded the House for taking the first step in providing a solution to the ag labor crisis. We now urge the Senate to protect American growers and the consumers they serve by acting to solve the ag labor crisis and in the process creating a predictable alternative to the fatally-flawed AEWR.”

The AEWR is the required wage rate for farmers who use the H-2A program to procure legal workers from other countries. Late last year, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the new AEWR for 2020 would increase by an average of 6% across the nation, and up to 10% in some states.

In a letter to the U.S. Senate, the AWC, a diverse group of organizations representing the needs of agricultural employers across the country, argued that the AEWR’s new increase will make it difficult for some farms to continue operating, coming after a year of natural disasters, trade disruptions, low commodity prices and declining farm income.

Over the last five years the AEWR has increased nationwide by 17% on average. AWC’s letter states that “While American farmers are required to pay their H-2A employees more and more each year, the U.S. continues to import more and more produce from Mexico and Central and South America, where workers are paid a fraction of U.S. wage rates.”

In addition to the NPC, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, USAFarmers, United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers Association were among the organizations that signed the letter.

The full text of the AWC letter is available here.

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