Dan Fazio, executive director for wafla is responding to allegations that they recently coached ag produces how to respond to a survey which the Washington Employment Security Department says biased the report.
FAZIO: Nothing could be further from the truth, but it does raise a critical issue for farmers and that's this: each year the federal government conducts one or more surveys to determine crops, wages, working conditions, etc, and every two years the state of Washington Employment Security Department conducts a survey of wages and what they call prevailing practices. These surveys are very important. The federal survey determined that the hourly wage for farmers in Washington and Oregon who use the H-2A legal worker program will need to pay a minimum wage of $12.69 per hour in 2016, and growers in Idaho who use H2-A will need to pay $11.75 per hour.
Producers not using H2-A are only required to pay whatever the state minimum wage is. Fazio says there was concern that the state would impose additional wage and working conditions.
FAZIO: The state is being pushed by the feds to establish minimum piece rate standards. In other words, if a apple or pear grower used the H-2A program, that grower would need to deal with a minimum wage of $12.69 per hour, and a minimum piece rate per bin of $25 dollars per bin, to give an example. Wafla pointed out to the state that piece rates vary widely based on variety, orchard density, and even the time of the season.
And that's Washington Ag Today. I'm Greg Martin, thanks for listening on the Ag Information Network of the West.