TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — 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. As in year’s past, the survey will be used by the U.S. Department of Labor to determine next year’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), an annual list of minimum wages for H-2A agricultural workers by state.
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. 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domestic food supply, we must modernize the H-2A visa program to align with current agricultural practices and remove outdated barriers that restrict access for Florida’s seasonal growers.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.
–Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association