NPC, Agriculture Workforce Coalition Urge Senate Action on Agriculture Labor Crisis

Legislation needed to offset impact of Adverse Effect Wage Rate for 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the new increased Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) going into effect today, the National Potato Council (NPC) as part of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) called on the U.S. Senate to take up legislation to solve the agricultural labor crisis and address the flawed AEWR.

“With some states experiencing unpredictable double-digit AEWR increases in recent years, this flawed government-mandated wage rate calculation is harming American farmers and our international competitiveness,” said Kam Quarles, NPC CEO. “NPC applauded the House for taking the first step in providing a solution to the ag labor crisis. We now urge the Senate to protect American growers and the consumers they serve by acting to solve the ag labor crisis and in the process creating a predictable alternative to the fatally-flawed AEWR.”

The AEWR is the required wage rate for farmers who use the H-2A program to procure legal workers from other countries. Late last year, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the new AEWR for 2020 would increase by an average of six percent across the nation, and up to 10 percent in some states.

In a letter to the U.S. Senate, the AWC, a diverse group of organizations representing the needs of agricultural employers across the country, argued that the AEWR’s new increase will make it difficult for some farms to continue operating, coming after a year of natural disasters, trade disruptions, low commodity prices and declining farm income.

Over the last five years the AEWR has increased nationwide by 17 percent on average. AWC’s letter states that “While American farmers are required to pay their H-2A employees more and more each year, the U.S. continues to import more and more produce from Mexico and Central and South America, where workers are paid a fraction of U.S. wage rates.” The full text of the AWC letter is available here.

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) brings together organizations representing the diverse needs of agricultural employers across the country. AWC serves as the unified voice of agriculture in the effort to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers and growers have access to a stable and secure workforce. For more information, please visit

The National Potato Council represents the interests of U.S. potato growers on federal legislative, regulatory, environmental and trade issues. The value of U.S. potato production is over $3.7 billion annually and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly.