NASS suspends ag labor surveys, reports - The Packer

NASS suspends ag labor surveys, reports

05/19/2011 03:53:00 PM
Fred Wilkinson

Citing budget constraints, the National Agricultural Statistics Service has suspended its labor surveys and reports, according to a May 18 notice in the Federal Register.

The agency’s April farm labor report that was due out May 19 was not published. The notice stated the reports normally published for July and October also will not be published “unless there is a change in the anticipated budget shortfall.” All data collection is suspended until further notice.

The quarterly reports include information about the number of agricultural workers, the hours worked and wage rates. The data on the number of workers and hours worked is used to project agricultural productivity.

The surveys compiled data from about 6,000 farms nationwide. Separate surveys are done in California.

In addition to the government agencies and individual growers that use information from the surveys, some lending institutions and insurance providers also rely on the data to set agricultural loan and insurance rates.

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Frank A Gasperini    
Washington, DC  |  May, 20, 2011 at 06:24 AM

The NASS survey is also used in the process of setting Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AWER) for the only legal guest worker program for agriculture (H-2A.) Although flawed and seemingly artificially hign, use of the NASS survey provides at least a nominal tie to actual AGRICULTURAL wages. In the face of Congressional action to mandate e-Verification, need for the H-2A and other legal programs may skyrocket, without NASS this leaves the USDOL to determine other, potentially even more onerous methods of determining the AEWR.

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