WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Tim Scott (R-SC), Ted Budd (R-NC), and Republican colleagues introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn a misguided rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that will drastically increase costs for American farmers. Representative Ralph Norman (R-SC-05) and Agriculture Chairman GT Thompson (R-PA-15) introduced an identical resolution in the House of Representatives.
“This is another example of the Biden administration’s war on the middle class,” said Dr. Cassidy. “They are putting policies in place which worsen inflation for the thing we all need—food.”
“Raised by a single mom, I know how hard it can be for families to make ends meet,” said Senator Scott. “When big government makes it more difficult to put food on the table, you know there’s been a monumental failure of leadership. Yet that’s exactly what President Biden’s Department of Labor is proposing: forcing farmers to shoulder the burden of higher labor costs and causing food prices to spike even further. I’m proud to stand with farmers and families in South Carolina and across the country in opposing this disastrous, out-of-touch rule. America needs a leader who puts families first.”
“At a time when farmers and growers are already being pushed to their limit as a result of rising input costs and shrinking margins, President Biden’s Labor Department is adding yet another burden. At the same time, families are struggling to afford their daily lives because of the Biden administration’s inflationary policies. This new rule will only add fuel to the fire by driving the cost of food and supplies up even higher. Congress must overturn this harmful rule to ensure that America’s farmers have a seat at the table when the federal government issues policies that could exacerbate their already significant labor and operational costs. I am pleased to join my colleagues in this important effort, which has overwhelming support from leaders in the agriculture community,” said Senator Budd.
Cassidy, Scott, and Budd, were joined by U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Boozman (R-AK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Kennedy (R-LA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Katie Britt (R-AL), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and John Hoeven (R-ND) in introducing this resolution.
The resolution is supported by the entire steering committee of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), which led a letter of support with over 550 Agriculture organizations from across the country—including the Louisiana Farm Bureau.
Since it took effect in 1987, the DOL’s H-2A visa program has played an essential role in filling gaps in the US farm labor market through the utilization of seasonal labor. H-2A labor is essential for a number of American farms to remain sufficiently staffed for the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of crops.
Almost half of H-2A labor is employed by individuals, so affordable wages and a maximization of the H-2A hiring process are both critical—especially for smaller farms.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, labor already accounts for nearly 40% of total production costs on some farms. This new rule from the Department of Labor will only raise that cost nationwide and will create a new layer of complexity for employers who rely on the H-2A program.