Scott Seeks Protections for Agricultural Workers from Rising Wages

Scott Seeks Protections for Agricultural Workers from Rising Wages

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
|
March 12, 2024

US Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) sent a letter to Senate colleagues urging them to freeze the rising Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). 

AEWR determines the federally-set minimum wage employers must pay nonimmigrant workers under the H-2A visa classification.

In January 1, 2024, an increased AEWR went into effect, nationally raising the rate by 5.6 percent. 

Senator Scott penned the letter along with 15 other conservative senators who claim the projected AEWR increase is hurting American farmworkers. 

“The increasing cost of labor for agriculture producers is unsustainable.  According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the national average AEWR will be $17.55 this year,” the Senators wrote.  “That represents an increase of 5.6 percent from 2023, the third year in a row the AEWR increased by over five percent. 

The Senators continued, arguing that further AEWR increases will force American farmers to alter their food production practices. They claim alterations could potentially impact the US’s domestic food-producing capabilities. 

According to Senator Scott’s office, AEWR increases are especially harmful to small and family-operated farms and ranches, who are already limiting operations due to rising employment costs. 

To this end, the Senators urged fellow lawmakers pass legislation to freeze the AEWR at current rates.

The Supporting Farm Operations Act of 2024 would revert the AEWR to the December 2023 rate until 2025. The bill does not specify how AEWR should continue to be calculated after 2025.

Florida’s AEWR rate currently sits at $14.77, a number slightly lower than the national average. 

Agriculture policy has been at the forefront of political debate since international farmer protests recently erupted across Europe in response to environmental regulations. 

Representative Kat Cammack (R-FL) responded to the protests by claiming the US should learn from the ongoing crisis. 

Taking prime agricultural land out of productive use not only flies in the face of logic as Europe grapples with rising food prices and competition from cheap food imports but discounts the incredible work the agriculture industry does for our global environment,” said Representative Cammack. 

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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