New Data Shows Record H-2A Participation in Fiscal Year 2021

News / Newsline December 2, 2021

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New data illustrates key information for farmers and ranchers who employ guest workers. Micheal Clements shares the details including H-2A program participation and farm labor wage rates.

Clements: The end of the calendar year brings new information about the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. American Farm Bureau Federation Senior Economist Veronica Nigh says participation in the program for 2021 was a record.

Nigh: Despite the ongoing global pandemic, fiscal year 2021—which started on October 1, 2020, and it went through September 30, 2021—was a record-breaking year for the H-2A program. The total number of certified positions increased over 15 percent.

Clements: Additionally, USDA recently released the Farm Labor Survey, which is the basis for the 2022 Adverse Effect Wage Rate, the minimum hourly wage rates that must be offered and paid by employers to H-2A workers.

Nigh: And the Farm Labor Survey found that in 2021 the average field and livestock worker wage rate was $15.56, which was up 94 cents from 2020 or about 6.4 percent from the $14.62 that was paid in 2020.

Clements: Finally, earlier this week, Nigh says the Department of Labor issued a proposed rule to change some of the wage calculations under the H-2A program.

Nigh: Today all workers, irrespective of position, are all paid the same adverse effect wage rates. The proposed rule suggests some disaggregation depending on job type. The American Farm Bureau, of course, is taking a close look at this rule and will provide comments, and advisement to our members in the weeks and months to come.

Clements: Learn more on the Market Intel page at fb.org. Micheal Clements, Washington.

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