Farm Labor and Overtime Pay Pt 2

Farm Labor and Overtime Pay Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
I’m Bob Larson. Among the many challenges facing agriculture in 2022 will be paying workers’ overtime. If you’ve never worked on a farm, this may seem like a no-brainer. But it’s something farmers have not had to do in the past.

Tom Davis, Government Relations Director at the Washington Farm Bureau, says the new ag overtime law kicked in on January 1st …

DAVIS … “It’ll phase in, anything over 55 hours you’ll have to pay overtime and then it will continue to phase in over the next three years. And so, this is an outward look, when the bill is fully implemented, carving out some weeks where people could work more hours, which they want to do, and it won’t be as expensive for farmers.”

But Davis says when it comes to foreign guestworkers …

DAVIS … “So, we’re hit both on the state level and the national level, talk about labor and H-2A workers, the hourly rate for H-2A workers in Washington went up once again. We have some of the highest rates in the nation, and yet we’re also one of the biggest users of H-2A because there’s not enough domestic workers to fill that need.”

And that, Davis says adds up fast …

DAVIS … “So, I think, you know, we’re looking at about 25,000 workers that came into the state last year to help produce and harvest our commodities and that’s not ending. We’re going to have to continue to do that until, you know, until we get a mechanized apple picker, we’re going to need workers.”

At a projected $17.41 per hour, Davis says Washington state is one of the highest, putting us at a big disadvantage.

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