Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, this is today’s Fruit Grower Report. The state will soon begin surveying farmworkers to ensure they aren’t exploited.

But, Pam Lewison, Ag Director at the Washington Policy Center, says, this new survey asks the same questions the employer survey asks at double the cost …

LEWISON … “Right off the top, there are some problems with it. The other comment that goes along with this sort of inherently is advocates say that H-2A brings wages down.”

With Washington’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate of $19.25 per hour, second only to California, Lewison says many are paid in the $23.50 range …

LEWISON … “What we have seen in ag is that wages are actually, artificially increased pretty significantly rather than what the bill argues which is that they are depressed.”

But beyond that …

LEWISON … “I think the real concern I have with it is aside from the use of taxpayer dollars, the wage survey has absolutely zero effect on federal policy.”

Nothing, Lewison says at all …

LEWISON … “Even though the state conducts this survey with employers currently, even if we added in this additional expense, effectively doubling the cost of this annual wage survey, it still does nothing to change federal H-2A policy. It doesn’t even guide how the adverse effect wage rate is calculated.”

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self says by ensuring more accurate data collection, we can advocate for fairer wages for our farmworkers.

The surveys will begin in June.

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