Carolina Senators Introduce Bill to Provide Relief for Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – All four U.S. senators from North Carolina and South Carolina, along with Republican colleagues from across the country, recently introduced the Supporting Farm Operations Act of 2024, legislation that would revert the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) to the December 2023 rate through the end of the 2025 growing season.

The AEWR in North Carolina rose 6 percent from $14.91/hour to $15.81/hour in January 2024. 

“With net farm income projected to decrease by more than 25% this year, farmers in North Carolina and across the country are struggling to make their planting decisions for this crop season,” said Senator Tillis. “The H-2A program has long been an option of last resort for farmers to hire legal and reliable workers to plant, grow, and harvest their crops; however, the wage rate farmers are required to pay by bureaucrats in Washington has become unsustainable.”

“Farmers care about the people who choose to work on their farms, and that includes paying them a fair wage,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Sen. Tillis’ bill takes a step toward creating a wage standard that benefits farmers and employees while ensuring farms can stay afloat and continue providing the food and fiber America’s families rely on. We greatly appreciate Senate leaders who are willing to fight for smart agricultural policy.”

“North Carolina Farm Bureau thanks Senator Tillis for his tireless work to address the labor needs of North Carolina’s farmers,” said Shawn Harding, President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau. “This bill is a reasoned approach to reducing one of agriculture’s most pressing concerns. Providing short-term Adverse Effect Wage Rate relief is a positive stop-gap until long-term agricultural labor reform is a reality.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include Senators Ted Budd (R-NC), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Roger Marshall (R-KS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tim Scott (R-SC), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Braun (R-IN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Kennedy (R-LA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

The Supporting Farm Operations Act of 2024 is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, North Carolina Farm Bureau, North Carolina Agribusiness Council, North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, North Carolina Growers Association, Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association, North Carolina Watermelon Association, North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs, North Carolina Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association, North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association, North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, Eastern North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, North Carolina Green Industry International, New England Farmers Union, Fresh Produce Association, AmericanHort, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, USApple, U.S. SweetPotato Council, and Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.

Full text of the bill can be found HERE.