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HomeAg NewsRecord-Low Number of Federal Wage and Hour Investigations of Farms

Record-Low Number of Federal Wage and Hour Investigations of Farms

The Economic Policy Institute says employers routinely underpay farm workers, among other workplace violations, but federal investigations into problems like these have dropped to an all-time low.

The institute says that’s likely because of funding and staffing constraints. A new report says Congress must increase funding for labor standards enforcement to protect farmworkers. Since 2000, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division has seen investigations drop by more than 60 percent. The division only has 810 investigators to protect all 165 million workers in the U.S. That means fewer than one percent of farm employers get investigated every year.

From 2000 to 2022, H-2A visa program violations accounted for almost half of back wages and civil money penalties owed by farm employers. The EPI wants Congress to stop hobbling the Department of Labor and provide resources for strong investment in farm worker protections. They also want stiffer fines imposed on chronic offenders.

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