Two Southern Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Combat Food Price Inflation

With millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck and one major home or car repair away from financial ruin, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) recently introduced the bipartisan “Farm Operations Support Act.”

In the most recent year-long report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for food at home increased 13.5 percent over 2022 from the previous span in 2021. According to a news release from Sen. Tillis, the Farm Operations Support Act would revert the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) to the December 2022 rate for the remainder of 2023. The AEWR in North Carolina rose 5 percent from $14.16/hour to $14.91/hour in January 2023.

“From crippling labor shortages to skyrocketing input costs, farmers in North Carolina and across the country are facing unprecedented challenges,” Tillis said. “The H-2A visa program has long been a last-resort option for farmers as a legal and reliable source of labor to plant, grow, and harvest their crops; however, the wage rate farmers are required to pay by the Department of Labor has long outpaced the rate of inflation and become unsustainable. This year’s increase has only exacerbated the current national labor crisis. While our farmers need broader programmatic reforms, this necessary legislation will give temporary relief to their rapidly rising input costs while maintaining worker pay and protections and allow U.S. farmers to continue doing what they do best—producing the safest, most abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber in the world.”

“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.”

Matt O'Hern
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