Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-05) and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15), introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to oppose the Department of Labor’s H-2A Adverse Effect Wage Rates rule that was finalized on February 28th.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) are leading a companion effort in the Senate.
This resolution has the support of 54 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 26 co-sponsors in the Senate.
Farmers across the country are struggling to cope with skyrocketing production costs which the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new and harmful H-2A regulation are expected to exacerbate. Currently, all H-2A workers are paid in accordance with the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR).
For years, producers have called on the DOL to make commonsense reforms to make the H-2A program more workable. Unfortunately, this new regulation will only increase the complexity of the program, make it more difficult for the farmer and agency to administer, and significantly increase the cost of utilizing the program.
Under the new DOL rule, several job types on farms will have separate and higher AEWRs. This change not only inflates H-2A wage rates, but it also creates a massive administrative burden for all farmers utilizing H-2A labor and will require them to separately track every activity of each employee on their farms to avoid violating the new rule. This new AEWR methodology ignores:
- agricultural industry realities such as labor shortages;
- the impact of program costs on competitiveness at home and abroad; and
- the impact that higher costs have on job availability and downstream industries.
This resolution is supported by over 590 agriculture groups as a part of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, which includes over half of the state farm bureaus.
“The Department of Labor’s new rule will only hurt our farmers and increase our reliance on imported food to keep our grocery shelves stocked, raising the cost of food and supplies. This is the last thing South Carolina families want. Congress must join my colleagues and me in overturning Biden's harmful regulation that poses tremendous harm to farmers across the country,” said Rep. Norman.
“Food security is national security, and no industry is more affected by our broken immigration system than agriculture." said Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture."Ensuring a reliable, year-round workforce is critical to driving the economy, feeding the world, and promoting the safety and security of our nation. The Biden Administration’s latest H-2A wage rule would further undermine farmers access to a legal workforce, drive up already inflated production costs, and ultimately impact American consumers at the grocery store.”
“Raised by a single mom, I know how hard it can be for families to make ends meet,” said Senator Scott. “When big government makes it more difficult to put food on the table, you know there’s been a monumental failure of leadership. Yet that’s exactly what President Biden’s Department of Labor is proposing: forcing farmers to shoulder the burden of higher labor costs and causing food prices to spike even further. I’m proud to stand with farmers and families in South Carolina and across the country in opposing this disastrous, out-of-touch rule. America needs a leader who puts families first.”
“At a time when farmers and growers are already being pushed to their limit as a result of rising input costs and shrinking margins, President Biden’s Labor Department is adding yet another burden,” said Senator Budd. “At the same time, families are struggling to afford their daily lives because of the Biden administration’s inflationary policies. This new rule will only add fuel to the fire by driving the cost of food and supplies up even higher. Congress must overturn this harmful rule to ensure that America’s farmers have a seat at the table when the federal government issues policies that could exacerbate their already significant labor and operational costs.”
“By helping to introduce this House Joint Resolution, Congressman Norman is standing up for SC farmers over DC bureaucrats. The H2A Program is vital to the success of American agriculture and our food supply, and the [rule name] will make it impossible to get the labor farmers need to provide us the food, fuel, and fiber we all rely on,” said President Harry Ott, South Carolina Farm Bureau.
"As a 25 year Veteran H-2A I want to personally thank Rep. Ralph Norman of my home state and House Agriculture committee Chairman GT Thompson for their leadership for offering this CRA, a crucial piece of legislation. Never in the existence of the Agriculture Guest worker program known as H-2A has the Federal Government implemented such negative 'new' rules to this program. These rules, if not overturned by Congress, will affect all Americans not just farmers, by driving food prices higher, put American farmers out of business and increase our countries dependance on imported fruits and vegetables, weakening our national security." said President & CEO Chalmers R. Carr III, Titan Farms.
“We applaud Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Ted Budd (R-NC) in the Senate and Representative Ralph Norman (R-SC) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) in the House for introducing disapproval resolutions under the Congressional Review Act.
The AWC urges Congress to act without delay to pass the disapproval resolutions as well as to pass ag workforce reform legislation that fully addresses our current and future workforce needs. Farmers are committed to paying their employees a fair wage. The way the wage has and continues to be set is flawed. The H-2A guest worker program must be reformed, including the wage calculation. We stand ready to work with Congress and DOL to achieve reform that is fair to both farmers and farm workers and more easily understood by all.” said the Agriculture Workforce Coalition.