The produce industry is pointing to the release of USDA’s Farm Labor Survey the day before Thanksgiving as a reason for passing farm workforce legislation.
The survey, used to help determine the hourly rate for the H-2A program, shows wages for workers were up 7% from the same week in October 2021, to $17.56 an hour.
As a result of the survey and the Labor Department’s wage formula, “we anticipate the national [Adverse Effect Wage Rate] will be $16.62, an increase of 6.8% over the current year,” the International Fresh Produce Association said. Across the country, individual state AEWR’s now range from between $13.67 to a high of $18.65 in California. The highest single increase on a percentage basis was in Florida, where the AEWR increased by almost 15.5%.”
IFPA and other groups are pushing the Senate to pass workforce legislation, which has already cleared the House, but the chances appear slim in the limited time afforded by the lame-duck session.
Take note: About 785,000 workers were working in the October reference week, representing a slight increase of about 2% from the year prior. Nearly one third were in California, Washington and Oregon, while about 3.3% were in Florida.
Beef trade revision gets Japanese Diet OK
Japan’s parliament has given final approval to a deal amending a beef safeguard mechanism under the U.S.-Japan trade agreement. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, the change will reduce the probability that U.S. beef could be hit with higher Japanese tariffs.
Japan was the second largest U.S. beef market in 2021.
The updated safeguard “will ensure our farmers and ranchers continue to have access to one of the world’s most dynamic markets,” said USTR Katherine Tai“The protocol represents a foundational pillar of our bilateral trade relationship – and I am grateful to our producers and stakeholders who helped make it possible.”  
House Ag members visit Cuba
A bipartisan delegation of three House Agriculture Committee members recently spent four days in Cuba, meeting with government officials as well as farmers and agribusiness representatives.
“Our journey to Cuba was an important opportunity to see the impact that U.S. agriculture is having in a nation that relies heavily on U.S. agricultural imports. As members of the House Agriculture Committee, we work every week in Washington to understand how U.S. agriculture and agricultural trade is affecting peoples around the world–and Cuba is no exception,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
Reps. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., Jim Baird, R-Ind., and Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., met with Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa as well as officials from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and representatives of the National Assembly.
FCIC offers more flexibility for sugar beet growers with stage guarantees
The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation has reinstated “stage guarantees” for sugar beet growers and made the stage removal option permanent “to ensure all producers have maximum flexibility to obtain the crop insurance coverage they need for their operation,” FCIC says in a rule published today.

Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse!  
Stage guarantees “provide progressive yield production guarantees for the crop as production costs accumulate through the growing season,” FCIC said. “For sugar beets, the first stage provides a 60% production guarantee from the date of planting until the earlier of thinning or 90 days after planting in California, or until July 1 in all other states. The final stage provides a 100% production guarantee.”
“Because indemnity payments are lower for losses during the first stage, stage guarantees provide a lower-cost crop insurance option for producers,” the rule said. “The lower premium costs are allowed in exchange for receiving a lower guarantee (60%) for losses that occur during the first stage of the crop's growth.”
Booker targets depopulation methods in new bill
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has dropped a bill late in the legislative session designed to prevent the use of “inhumane” methods to depopulate diseased animals in the event of disease, including the commonly employed practice of water-based foam.
Booker’s bill is backed by dozens of groups, including the ASPCA, Center for Food Safety and the Northeast Organic Dairy Alliance. It would impose a fee of $1 per animal unit to fund a High-Risk Animal Feeding Operation Disaster Mitigation Fund, which “will be utilized to enforce disaster mitigation plans and ensure that the most humane practices are used if depopulation is absolutely necessary,” Booker’s office said in a news release.

Questions? Comments? Tips? Send an email to Steve Davies.