Apr 24, 2023
GFVGA supports resolution reversing AEWR changes

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) is urging members of the Georgia congressional delegation to support resolutions to reverse changes announced in the Department of Labor’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR).

The forthcoming Congressional Review Act resolutions calls for reversing DOL changes to the “new and harmful H-2A regulation, entitled, “Adverse Effect Wage Rate Methodology for the Temporary Employment of H-2A Nonimmigrants in Non-Range Occupations in the United States,” GFVGA officials said in a news release.

On the heels of Georgia’s 14% increase in the AEWR for 2023, changes announced by DOL in February will add more administrative burdens to growers using the program and require growers to pay separate, higher wages for certain jobs, according to the release.

In a letter to the delegation, Chris Butts, GFVGA vice president, argues against the changes that will further raise the cost of fruit and vegetable production in Georgia.

“Fruit and vegetable production in Georgia, with an annual farm gate value of over $1.5 billion, is heavily dependent on H-2A labor,” Butts said in the release. “Georgia producers face a 14% increase in the Adverse Effect Wage Rate in 2023. With over 32,000 H-2A workers employed in the state in 2022, conservative estimates are that this increase will cost Georgia growers over $120 million in increased wages this year alone.

“This comes on the heels of record increases in input costs, inflation, and supply chain disruptions. As price takers, farmers will not be able to offset these increased costs by raising prices. Instead, these wage increases will ultimately result in decreased production of fresh fruits and vegetables in Georgia and in increased reliance on foreign countries for our food.”

The Congressional Review Act resolutions are expected to be introduced by 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 of Representatives.

“Georgia producers are at the crossroads of trade and labor policies that inhibit our nation’s ability to feed itself,” Butts said in the release. “GFVGA encourages all members to contact your congressional representative to urge their support of the disapproval resolutions to begin to level the playing field for our farmers.”

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