A group of US growers, unhappy with the hike in wages that must be paid to agricultural guest workers this year, have lost their court bid to overturn that requirement.
A federal judge in Washington said on March 18th that the growers’ underlying beef wasn’t with the 2019 wage rates themselves, but rather the Labor Department’s methodology for calculating them. The DOL adopted that methodology in a 2010 regulation, meaning the growers’ January 2019 lawsuit was filed too late.
The National Council of Agricultural Employers and Nevada-based Peri & Sons Farms said the adverse effect wage rates for 2019 were so high that they will threaten the viability of farming businesses in the U.S.
Peri & Sons, for example, estimated an increase in labor costs from $45 million in 2018 to $49 million in 2019, causing a net loss of $3 million this year. The United Farm Workers and three individual farmworkers intervened in the case to argue in favor of the increased wages.