H-2A Adverse Effect Wage Rates for 2023

The USDA NASS released the Farm Labor Survey last week. The survey is used by the Department of Labor to determine the AEWR’s for the next year. The National Council of Ag Employers have taken the survey and ESTIMATED the next round of AEWR’s. The changes are NOT FINAL but give us an idea of what to expect based on the data released. The new wages are normally official in mid-December and effective near the first of the year.

Remember if you’re an H-2A employer, you will likely have to pay the new AEWR after the effective date of the AEWR’s in late December (we will let you know when published). This could apply for those of you ginning late into the month of December.

We wanted to let you see what to expect for next year and get you prepared for the changes. Some states have huge increases and others are modest. Remember these are not final and could change a little when finalized.

State20222023 EstimatePct Change
Alabama11.9913.6714%
Florida12.4114.3315.4%
Georgia11.9913.6714%
North Carolina14.1614.915.3%
South Carolina11.9913.6714%
Virginia14.1614.915.3%
US Average15.5616.626.8%
Estimated Changes to AEWR for H-2A program

Wage and Hour Investigations?????

This is the week we normally begin to hear about Wage and Hour division of the Department of Labor investigating cotton gins. As of this morning we have NOT heard of any where at this point last year we had already heard about 10 or so.

We’re asking that if you have had or are in the middle of a WHD investigation, please let us know. We may be able to help with the process but even if you are handling it yourself, we’d like to keep up with the activity.

Please contact me or Andy if you have had an investigation this Fall. dusty at southern-southeastern.org.

New H-2A Rules are Published

The Department of Labor issued new rules earlier this month governing the H-2A program. We’ve been expecting changes to the program for almost three years. The Trump Administration published a rule just before they left which was negated as soon as the Biden Administration took over. The new rules are the revisions that have been adopted as a replacement. Sound Confusing???? Yep. This is not how the sausage is supposed to be made.

There is very little to like in the new rule. Most of the significant procedural changes will not be apparent to our members because they deal with the filing of petitions and applications. There are significant changes to the bonding requirements which could make it much harder for Labor Contractors to access the program. Some feel the bonding could kick most of the LC’s out but that has to bee seen yet.

The linked article has a lot more detail on the rules. It does a much better job than I can in this format. Understand this rule can go into actual effect this week but will really affect next year’s harvest for our industry.

As I mentioned, the way this rule came out is not normal and some of the things contained in it could be significant impacts to some users of the program either increasing cost or eliminating their access. There are a number of groups that have discussed filing for stopping this rule. We’ll update you as we hear more. For now, we wanted to get this on your radar if you’re considering the program for next year.

DSF

https://www.michiganfarmnews.com/wages-joint-employment-and-changes-for-labor-contractors-in-h-2a-rule-overhaul

FDA Food Facility Biennial Registration Open

All facilities that supply feed for livestock or other animals must register with the FDA. This registration is the continuation of regulations on such facilities going back to post-9/11 actions. The most recent revisions are associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) several years ago.

FSMA carries with it a lot of other regulations that we’ve, so far, been able to have delayed. FDA said that gins and many other similar facilities will not have the full group of regulations such as Current Good Management Practices and detailed record keeping applied and use its regulatory discretion. We continue to work to keep gins from being over regulated in this arena.

Most gins have previously registered. If you registered before October 1, 2022, you need to renew your registration. There are a few extra steps this year for renewals and new registrations. Please follow the link below for FDA’s page on this registration.

When you fill this out, make sure you follow the path for “Suppliers of Food for Animals”. The only thing you should have to do is register or renew your registration.

https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-food-feeds/animal-food-facility-registration-and-qualified-facility-attestation-frequently-asked-questions

We hope this isn’t too confusing. Just don’t let this registration slip by. The deadline for renewal is December 31, 2022.

DSF

Quick Tip: Staging Cotton in the Field and Yard

We wanted to shoot everyone a quick reminder…

The weather thus far this season has allowed producers to cover a lot of ground. Our trucking situation hasn’t gotten any better so in many places harvesters have gotten fairly far ahead of hauling to the gin. Producers are staging their cotton in the fields or in areas where they are easily accessed which is one of the HUGE benefits of rounds. We’ve known for years if the cotton is harvested dry and put in rounds in a good location they have a much better chance of ginning well even if weather moves in.

Some gins have access to big yards and gin quickly but others do not. This can lead to stacking or staging a lot of cotton in a small area. Many insurance policies have limits on how much (normally dollar amount) cotton can be stacked together without separation. It would be a great time to review these limits and the separation that is required between those groups of modules. Take some time to make sure you understand them and if not, get with your agent. Then contact or check out where your producers are staging cotton to make sure both of you are on the same page.

We hope this short reminder helps.

DSF