New labor rule increases regulatory pressure on farmers

May 01, 2024


The agriculture sector faces new challenges as the Department of Labor has introduced a substantial regulatory update affecting farmers and ranchers. This new rule, linked to the H-2A visa program, significantly increases the compliance burden on agricultural employees. 

Farmers are expressing concerns over the rule's broad scope and the ambiguous language, which may lead to higher operational costs. The regulation is perceived as overly punitive, with an approach that seems to presume guilt over compliance failures, rather than providing guidance or support to farm owners. 

The introduction of this rule is part of a larger trend where agricultural employees have encountered nearly 3,000 pages of new regulations over the last 18 months. These regulations are not just extensive but also complex, requiring legal expertise to understand and implement, further adding to the financial strain on farmers. 

This increase in regulatory demands comes at a time when farmers already face many challenges managing their operations, particularly regarding maintaining a stable and reliable workforce. The new rule threatens to complicate this further, potentially impacting the agricultural economy significantly. 

Industry leaders are encouraging farmers and ranchers to reach out to their elected representatives to express their concerns about the new regulations. They emphasize the importance of a supportive legislative environment that allows farmers to thrive while still ensuring fair and safe working conditions for all employees. 

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