Skip to content

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced a resolution of disapproval today to overturn a misguided rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) that will drastically increase costs for American farmers. The senators were joined by 24 other Senators upon introduction.

“The Biden administration’s proposed wage rule for temporary agricultural workers will worsen the labor crisis and skyrocketing food prices—two issues the president’s policies directly created,” said Risch. “Congress must stop the administration’s bad policies from making this worse.”

“Every day Idaho’s farmers are asked to do more with less,” said Crapo. “Overturning this rule means returning to reasonable H-2A rates and reducing a massive administrative burden for Idaho’s farmers who rely on H-2A labor to put food on the table at reasonable prices for Americans. Once again, the Biden Administration is ignoring agricultural industry realities at a cost to American families.”

“Raised by a single mom, I know how hard it can be for families to make ends meet,” said 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.”

Senator Risch, Crapo, and Scott were joined by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Tom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

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 Idaho Dairymen’s Association, the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, and the Idaho Potato Commission.

“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.


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. In addition, H-2A guest workers are not competing with American workers for jobs. Employers using H-2A workers must have first attempted to find U.S. workers to fill a position before being allowed to hire a guest worker.

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.

# # #