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Federal proposal pivotal for North Carolina farmers

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(The Center Square) – North Carolina’s senior senator, noting the projected net income loss of 25% this year, says farmers making decisions on crop planting would be helped if the adverse effect wage rate was reversed.

The rate in North Carolina rose 6% in January, from $14.91 to $15.81 per hour. That means farmers in the state where agriculture is the No. 1 industry must pay workers from the H-2A program more while their farms bring in less.

Tillis, with Sen. Ted Budd, R-N.C., and 15 others, is cosponsoring the Supporting Farm Operations Act of 2024. It changes the rate back to its December amount and stays in place through the end of the 2025 growing season.

In a statement, Tillis said, “The H-2A program has long been an option of last resort for farmers to hire legal and reliable workers to plant, grow, and harvest their crops; however, the wage rate farmers are required to pay by bureaucrats in Washington has become unsustainable.”

Shawn Harding, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, said the proposal is a reasoned approach to one of the industry’s top concerns. Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said if enacted the legislation could keep farms afloat.

Also supporting the measure are North Carolina organizations associated with agribusiness, sweet potatoes, tobacco, vegetable growers, watermelons, Christmas trees, agricultural fairs and growers in general. It also draws approval from the New England Farmers Union, InternationalFresh Produce Association, AmericanHort, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, USApple, U.S. SweetPotato Council and Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, a release said.

Republican senators cosponsoring with Tillis in addition to Budd include Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts, Kansas’ Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran, Texas’ John Cornyn, Wyoming’s Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, South Carolina’s Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, Indiana’s Mike Braun, Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker, Idaho’s Mike Crapo, Florida’s Rick Scott, Louisiana’s John Kennedy and South Dakota’s Mike Rounds.

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