The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that H-2A wages will remain at 2020 rates for the next two years. DOL is revising the methodology for how the department determines the hourly Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) in the H-2A visa program. The updates will become effective 45 days after being published in the Federal Register. The amendments are designed to bring a level of stability to the overall cost of farm labor.
“This rule shows once again President Trump’s commitment to America’s farmers by delivering lower costs when they need it the most,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “Over the past several years farm wages have increased at a higher pace than other industries, which is why this DOL rule could not come at a better time. This is an example of good government that will ensure greater stability for farmers and help them make long term business decisions rather than facing uncertainty year after year.”
The final rule will improve the consistency of AEWRs and strengthen protection for agricultural workers involved in the H-2A program. Wage rates will remain constant through 2022. DOL will adjust AEWRs in 2023 based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index. More predictable H-2A wages will help the agricultural sector make more precise planning and budgeting decisions.
“The Department of Labor’s decision to maintain current pay rates for the next two years for the majority of H-2A employers provides stability during the uncertainty created by the pandemic and trade imbalances,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “While this decision does not solve all of the wage issues, it is a step in the right direction. We look forward to continuing our work on meaningful agricultural labor reform through the regulatory or legislative processes.”