USDA Suspension of Farm Labor Survey Overturned by Court

Photo: April Clayton

Farmworker advocates are pleased the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the USDA decision to suspend the annual Farm Labor Survey. The Packer said unless the decision gets appealed, it means USDA has to conduct its Farm Labor Survey and issue its annual Farm Labor Report in November. The survey determines the adverse effect wage rate for the Department of Labor’s H2-A guest agricultural worker program.

The United Farm Workers and plaintiffs sued the USDA for its decision to suspend the survey. The UFW said that in the absence of the survey results, wages for guest workers would decline sharply because the Department of Labor would not have data to establish new wage rates other than state minimum wages. Michael Marsh, President of the National Council for Agricultural Employers, said he doesn’t know if the USDA will appeal the decision, noting that, “They could ask for a stay of the lower court’s order, pending an appeal.”

He says another relevant development is a Department of Labor proposal to create a new method to determine H-2A wages, which is in the final review stage.

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