COVID-19 block grant funding available for growers

A U.S. Labor Department proposed rule that would re-adjust how wages are calculated for temporary H-2A farm workers is under White House review.  The proposal has not been made public yet, and can take up to 90 days for review by the Administration. Adverse effect wage rates (AEWR) are intended to restrain farmers from depressing prevailing local wages by employing only visa workers at significantly lower rates.  They were historically calculated using the USDA’s Farm Labor Survey, but officials said they would discontinue collecting that data in October 2020. 

A federal court halted the USDA’s plan to discontinue the Farm Labor Survey in late October 2020, but the AEWR rule moved forward anyway.  The last adverse effect wage rate rule was issued in November 2020, relying on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment cost index for most field workers pay and the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey for supervisory and other high-skilled employees. Stay tuned, and we will keep you advised once the White House completes its review.

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