Senators press for AEWR freeze

By Spencer Chase

Some 16 Republican senators are calling on congressional leaders to move legislation that would freeze the adverse effect wage rate for H-2A workers at 2023 levels.

In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, the GOP senators say the AEWR should be frozen in the “earliest possible legislative vehicle.” The letter points to rising labor costs following annual AEWR adjustments. The national average rate is $17.55 per hour this year, up 5.6% over last year. Rates vary by state.

“We have heard from constituents who will be forced to make tough decisions about which crops they will be able to afford to hire enough labor to harvest this year,” the letter notes. “Others, including small and family-run operations, will be unable to afford the added labor costs and forced to shutter operations altogether. In order to support our farmers and ranchers and feed families across the country, we must act now.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rick Scott of Florida, Jim Risch of Idaho, Mike Braun and Todd Young of Indiana, Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran of Kansas, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Ted Budd and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven of North Dakota, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mike Rounds of South Dakota.