I have heard often that what happens in California is a good indication of which direction the country is heading. That may be true many times but for those of us here in New York State I think we may have a second read on this concept. Today California is deeply troubled by the reality that for farms to field a legal workforce they need to move heavily to the H2A program. This means that they must now become concerned with housing on a scale that frankly they are not prepared to cope with. No longer can they hire an employee and tell them to report to work the next day. Now they must provide approved housing for each new hire. Labor shortages are increasing in the West each day due to the requirements of compliance to H2A. I say welcome to our reality!
Here in New York we are seeing a sharp increase in the usage of the H2A program. The reality is that the labor pool that may migrate north is depleted and no longer able to fill our needs. To insure a labor supply adequate to meet your needs means you must make use of the H2A program. It may be cumbersome but it is workable if one follows the steps provided. Farm size has little to do with who is using this program. I know of several farms that are asking for only 2 employees. The point is, if you have a labor need no one is exempt.
Dairy continues to be the industry most at risk. We have seen countless attempts in Washington to get some relief for this industry. To date the seasonality clause remains the heavy lift. Many in dairy have expressed a strong desire to be allowed to participate in the H2A program. Some form of this may occur but thus far it remains a roadblock. The current H2C efforts if passed would offer some paths to relief. I see too many issues with this piece of legislation to ever make it to the finish line. The fact that we are still attempting to draft a good piece of legislation is the one bright take away from this H2C effort. If Dairy ever does get acceptance into the H2A program I think many will find themselves in the same position as California. Housing may be a huge barrier for this group to overcome.
Agriculture Affiliates/NYS Horticulture Society has agreed to participate in the 2018 Becker Forum. I have enclosed an agenda in this mailing for your review. I would strongly encourage each farm to have some representation in Syracuse on January 15, 2018. We will have a one day review of many of the questions we will be facing both in Albany and DC in 2018. Second, we will have speakers from the State and Federal government to report on the most current news. We are offering a panel of three farms that have made the transition successfully to H2A. They will be a resource for all of you to hear what their observations of this process have been. As always we will allow a Q and A for you at the end to express your opinions. Please attend and consider sponsoring this program.
It may appear that we are fighting an uphill battle with regards to labor. I can understand this. I would
offer that we are making progress. Both in State and Nationally I see a broadening acceptance that Agriculture is very important to our economic security. Food security is a factor. From East to West we are seeing a centering of issues that I feel will only help to push sound guest worker legislation forward. New York State has been and will continue to be a leader in this growth. It is the participation of many of you that has kept our needs and issues current. We will with your participation and support continue to articulate your needs. I cannot state it more clearly that failure to be present when these issues are discussed is to surrender to concepts we know will offer only failure to our operations.
Thank you for your support;
Adverse Effect Wage Rates
State 2017 2018 %Change
New York $12.38 $12.83 3.63%
Arizona $10.95 $10.46 -4.47%
California $12.57 $13.18 4.85%
Florida $11.12 $11.29 1.53%
Georgia $10.62 $10.95 3.11%
Hawaii $13.14 $14.37 9.36%
Michigan $12.75 $13.06 2.43%
New Hampshire $12.38 $12.83 3.63%
North Carolina $11.27 $11.46 1.69%
New Jersey $12.19 $12.05 -1.15%
Ohio $13.01 $12.93 -0.61%
Oregon $13.38 $14.12 5.53%
Pennsylvania $12.19 $12.05 -1.15%
Texas $11.00 $11.87 2.42%
Vermont $12.38 $12.83 3.63%
Virginia $11.27 $11.46 1.69%
Washington $13.38 $14.12 5.53%