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Ossoff digging into USDA Farm Labor Survey calculations

Posted on Mar 28, 2024 at 7:36 AM

Sen. Jon Ossoff is conducting an inquiry into how the USDA conducts its Farm Labor Survey in Georgia.

On March 7, Ossoff wrote to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) asking for more transparency in the survey, which the U.S. Department of Labor uses to determine wages for H-2A workers in Georgia and across the nation.

Ossoff asked the USDA to provide information about how Georgia growers are asked to participate in the Farm Labor Survey and to provide resources for farmers to help them complete the Farm Labor Survey.

“Agriculture is Georgia’s number one industry, and one of my top priorities is ensuring that Georgia’s farmers and farmworkers prosper,” Sen. Ossoff wrote. “For this reason, I write to request additional information about the data you gather about Georgia’s agricultural economy, how you deploy your limited resources to best inform the agricultural public, and how we can work together to support Georgia’s growers as they provide important data to you.”

Ossoff pointed out that Georgia has seen substantial increases in the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for the Southeast the past two years. In that time, the state’s AEWR has risen to $14.68 per hour for H-2A workers in 2024, $1.01 per hour more than in 2023.

In February 2023, after the 2022 Farm Labor Survey results were released, Georgia Farm Bureau members shared these concerns with Ossoff and with other members of Georgia’s congressional delegation during GFB’s annual county presidents’ trip to D.C. 

Specifically, Ossoff asked NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer how many Georgia producers were asked to fill out the Farm Labor Survey, why Georgia is grouped with South Carolina and Alabama in the survey’s sampling, how the survey is used and what resources would be required to produce data specific to Georgia.

Ossoff noted that Georgia uses significantly more H-2A labor than Alabama or South Carolina. In Fiscal Year 2023, there were 37,536 H-2A positions certified in Georgia — nearly 10 percent of the nation’s total — while South Carolina and Alabama had 7,522 and 2,141, respectively.   

Click here to read Sen. Ossoff’s inquiry.

Meanwhile, NASS is conducting its 2024 Agricultural Labor Survey in April. More than 1,700 farmers and ranchers in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina will be asked to participate in the survey online at  or by mail. The survey is an opportunity for producers to provide accurate information about hired farm labor, including total number of hired farm workers, total hours worked, and total wages paid for the weeks of Jan. 7-13 and Apr. 7-13.

For more information about the Farm Labor Survey program, visit or call the NASS Southern Regional Field Office at (800) 253-4419.

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