WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) recently introduced the bipartisan Farm Operations Support Act, legislation that would revert the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) to the December 2022 rate for the remainder of 2023. The AEWR in North Carolina rose 5 percent from $14.16/hour to $14.91/hour in January 2023.
“From crippling labor shortages to skyrocketing input costs, farmers in North Carolina and across the country are facing unprecedented challenges,” said Senator Tillis. “The H-2A visa program has long been a last-resort option for farmers as a legal and reliable source of labor to plant, grow, and harvest their crops; however, the wage rate farmers are required to pay by the Department of Labor has long outpaced the rate of inflation and become unsustainable. This year’s increase has only exacerbated the current national labor crisis. While our farmers need broader programmatic reforms, this necessary legislation will give temporary relief to their rapidly rising input costs while maintaining worker pay and protections and allow U.S. farmers to continue doing what they do best—producing the safest, most abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber in the world.”
“North Carolina Farm Bureau thanks Senator Tillis for his tireless work to address the labor needs of North Carolina’s farmers,” said Shawn Harding, President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau. “This bill is a reasoned approach to reducing one of agriculture’s most pressing concerns. Providing short-term Adverse Effect Wage Rate relief is a positive stop-gap until long-term agricultural labor reform is a reality.”
Despite the undue burden placed on farmers, the AEWR has increased steadily for the last nine years. Many farmers have said this year’s increase is unsustainable on top of rising input costs and other inflationary challenges.
Read the full bill here.