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MFB urges AEWR response from members

“For 10 consecutive years, the Department of Labor has increased the Adverse Effect Wage Rate,” said MFB National Legislative Counsel John Kran. “Please send a message and have your voice be heard.” Image credit: Getty Images
Date Posted: November 27, 2023

A possible increase of $1.16 for the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) could “make or break” some farmers, according to Veronica Nigh, senior economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

The make-or-break scenario is why Michigan Farm Bureau wants members and supporters to contact several decisionmakers, members of Congress, President Biden, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su. 

Participate by texting MIFARMS to 52886 or visit 

Unsustainable wage increases are threatening the existence of family farms utilizing the H-2A program, and it impacts all farms that rely on seasonal labor and ultimately our consumers that depend on U.S.-grown fruits and vegetables,” said John Kran, national legislative counsel for Michigan Farm Bureau.

“With yet another excessive and unsustainable increase to the H-2A’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate announced Nov. 22, the risk of losing our ability to grow and harvest food locally continues to escalate.”

USDA’s November Farm Labor Survey indicated Michigan producers utilizing H-2A workers in 2024 could pay $18.50 per hour, an increase of 6.7% from the current rate of $17.34. That's the fourth highest in the nation behind California ($19.75), Pacific Region ($19.25) and Hawaii ($18.74).

The Department of Labor uses USDA’s Farm Labor Survey to establish AEWR.

“The USDA’s Farm Labor Survey told us that wage rates across the United States, in all states, in all regions, increased in 2023,” Nigh said Nov. 22. “The Farm Labor Survey tells us that in 2024, farmers in 13 states will pay more than $1 more per hour to their H-2A employees than they did this year. Farmers in 31 states will pay between 50 cents and $1 more. Only in six states is the increase for next year less than 50 cents.”

Michigan relies heavily on the H-2A program, which provided more than 13,500 jobs in 2022 in fruit, vegetable, dairy, field crop, and, among other operations, Christmas tree farms.

Michigan’s AEWR has increased 61% since 2014 when it hit $11.49. Add in the increased reliance on fruit and vegetable imports — up to 60% for fresh fruit and 38% for fresh vegetables — and Kran said growers are in precarious spots.

“These businesses and their employees are at risk of losing everything because they can’t afford the wage increases and keep up with skyrocketing input costs,” Kran added. 

“For 10 consecutive years, the Department of Labor has increased the AEWR. Please send a message and have your voice be heard.”

John Kran headshot

John Kran

National Legislative Counsel
517-679-5336 [email protected]