March 12, 2024

Western Growers Responds to Agriculture Labor Working Group Report, Renews Call to Pass FWMA 

IRVINE, CALIF. (March 12, 2024) – Following the release of the March 7 Agriculture Labor Working Group report on the farm labor crisis, Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia wrote a letter to Agriculture Labor Working Group Co-Chairs Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., and Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C., renewing his call for the U.S. Congress to take up the Farm Workforce Modernization Act:

“The persistent and worsening shortage of labor for many sectors in the agricultural industry has collided with rapidly rising wage costs for employers forced to utilize the H-2A program to secure temporary foreign workers,” Puglia wrote. “The fallout takes many forms. For example, America is increasingly dependent on imported fresh produce as the cost structure for domestic production, driven in large part by labor costs, continues to advantage foreign producers. Within our own membership, these and other regulatory factors are forcing farm consolidation, which increasingly results in multi-generational family farms giving way to private equity investors.

“In several areas the report cites provisions of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 4319), notably including the wage formula for employers utilizing the H-2A program. As you know, had the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA) become law, farmers employing H-2A workers would have saved $1 billion in wage costs in 2023 and another $1.8 billion through 2024. The H-2A wage rate today would be 12.7 percent lower on a national average had that legislation become law.

“It remains a highly regrettable lost opportunity that the Senate did not take up this legislation after the House passed it with bipartisan support, twice in successive years.”

The entirety of the letter to the ALWG can be found here.