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H2A wages up in'21

BOISE--Farmers must pay H-2A workers more in 2021, that according to a new report from the Department of Agriculture. The Farm Labor Survey sets the minimum wage farmers must pay H-2A workers. It’s Known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, The Farm Bureaus Braden Jensen follows H2A issues:

"So what we've heard is that AEWR for 2021 will be $14.55 that's up from last year's $13.62 cents that's approximately a seven-percent and a dollar increase. Obviously, this will be a significant increase for our producers as far as the cost of production, the labor aspect. We are still on the tail-end of this pandemic. We are still seeing the markets settle. It will be interesting to see how it affects our producers going forward," said Jensen.

The Adverse Effect Wage Rate is usually published in November, but a policy change delayed the announcement and up went wages.

"What we saw from the last administration, were efforts to improve the AEWR process and how they gather that information through the surveys, through the USDA, but a court struck those provisions down. That meant USDA had to reissue the survey, collect that information, and so we’re only just now getting that survey data out,” said Jensen

The new rate goes into effect immediately. Whether farmers will need to issue back pay for wages earned before the announcement has yet to be determined. Jensen says the 2021 increase follows five years of increases.

"So we are still unaware of all the different factors that are playing into the higher wage, but that's something we are going to look at, but nonetheless looking at the wage here in Idaho, at $14.55 cents, again nearly a dollar increase from last year," said Jensen.

And higher wages mean higher food prices in 2021.