Scott, Budd Move to Reverse Dept of Labor’s Misguided Rule, Protect Farmers, & Combat Skyrocketing Food Prices
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and U.S. Senator Ted Budd (R-N.C.), along with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), led their Republican colleagues in introducing a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn a misguided rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) that will drastically increase costs for American farmers. Senators Scott and Budd were joined by 26 other Senators upon introduction.
Representative Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Agriculture Chairman GT Thompson (R-Pa.) introduced an identical resolution in the House of Representatives with 53 other members of the House.
“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. 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. I am pleased to join my colleagues in this important effort, which has overwhelming support from leaders in the agriculture community,” said Senator Budd.
“The Department of Labor’s new rule will only increase our reliance on imported food to keep our grocery shelves stocked, while still raising the cost of food and supplies. This is the last thing American families want,” said Representative Ralph Norman.
“Food security is national security, and no industry is more affected by our broken immigration system than 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,” said Glenn “GT” Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Senators Scott and Budd were joined by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Kennedy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
The resolution is supported by the entire steering committee of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), which led a letter of support with over 550 Agriculture organizations from across the country—including the South Carolina Farm Bureau.
“The AWC strongly opposes the harmful H-2A regulation. The new calculation dramatically increases costs for producers utilizing the program and will place an undue burden on family farms which are already facing a multitude of challenges, including the impact of high input costs, foreign competition, market volatility, and adverse weather. It will make it difficult for farmers to remain competitive and will serve only to further increase costs for domestically produced agricultural products,” said the member organizations of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition. “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.”
“By helping to introduce this resolution, Senator Scott and Congressman Norman are standing up for SC farmers over DC bureaucrats,” said President Harry Ott, South Carolina Farm Bureau. “The H-2A Program is vital to the success of American agriculture and our food supply, and the Department of Labor’s February 28th rule will make it impossible to get the labor farmers need to provide us the food, fuel, and fiber we all rely on.”
Since it took effect in 1987, the DOL’s H-2A visa program has played an essential role in filling gaps in the US farm labor market through the utilization of seasonal labor. H-2A labor is essential for a number of American farms to remain sufficiently staffed for the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of crops.
Almost half of H-2A labor is employed by individuals, so affordable wages and a maximization of the H-2A hiring process are both critical—especially for smaller farms.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, labor already accounts for nearly 40% of total production costs on some farms. This new rule from the Department of Labor will only raise that cost nationwide and will create a new layer of complexity for employers who rely on the H-2A program.
Summary of the Rule:
- The Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) is the minimum amount of payment that DOL requires employers to offer to H-2A visa agricultural workers.
- 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 H-2A farmers who now have to separately track every activity of every employee on their farms to avoid violating the new rule.
- DOL ignored agricultural industry realities when it crafted this new AEWR methodology, and it blatantly dismissed dozens of concerns submitted by producers during the rulemaking process.