Ag News

House Ag Labor Working Group releases final report

Posted on Mar 14, 2024 at 10:00 AM

The House Committee on Agriculture laid out a roadmap on March 7 to relieve labor shortages that have seriously impacted America’s farmers and ranchers. The Agriculture Labor Working Group (ALWG) released its final report on how to improve the H-2A guest worker program. It includes more than 20 recommendations to streamline the program and make labor more affordable for farmers.

“We are losing farms in America at a rapid pace and there is no question that our broken workforce system is partly to blame,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “This report makes it clear, once again, that there is bipartisan agreement on the need to improve the H-2A program to better serve America’s agriculture sector. This working group of the House Agriculture Committee spent months studying and discussing this issue and now delivers important bipartisan solutions for America’s struggling agricultural labor force.

Georgia Rep. David Scott, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, is part of the ALWG.

“I am grateful to committee leaders for making this a priority when they could have looked the other way. That’s what leadership is all about and I hope this work is followed by action. America’s farmers and ranchers are counting on Congress to address this issue before more farms go under.”

The ALWG consisted of Democrats and Republicans, with 15 recommendations receiving unanimous approval. While the recommendations from the ALWG do not address all the labor challenges facing farmers, they do offer needed solutions, including:

Streamlining the recruiting and hiring of H-2A employees;

Expanding the H-2A program to meet year-round needs;

Paying employees based on duties performed for the majority of their day; and

Reforming wage calculation standards to provide stability in farmworker pay rates.

Out of control wage rate increases have taken a toll on America’s farms. A recent Market Intel shows that the mandatory base wage rates for H-2A workers increased almost 41% from 2018 to 2024. This growth in the Department of Labor-calculated agricultural wage rate is almost 60% higher than the growth in the overall U.S. Employment Cost Index.

The report includes several weather-related worker protection recommendations. Farmers and ranchers are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their employees, and Farm Bureau looks forward to working with policymakers to ensure that any heat-related labor regulations do so while also accounting for the diversity of weather conditions and labor duties.

Read the full ALWG report here.

  • Categories:
  • Tags: