Increases in the minimum wages mandated under the H-2A program present a challenge to farmers who are already facing tight margins. Veronica Nigh, an AFBF economist, explained in a recent Newsline that the number of certified positions under the program increased 10 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to 2018. She says that’s helping to drive up the H-2A adverse effect wage rate. 

“It’s making it more difficult for farmers to plan,” Nigh said. “And as we look at net farm income being down 44 percent this year compared to where we were back in 2013, we’re all feeling those squeezed margins. Especially on the fruit and vegetable side; labor is their largest cost.”