Agricultural overtime law cuts farmworker income and pushes up food prices
- Farms in the United States earn $0.07 of every food dollar spent. A food budget of $300 puts $21 back into on-farm operations.
- Washington state has the highest hourly wage for farmworkers anywhere in the U.S. at $20/hr., which equates to $30/hr. in overtime pay.
- Farmworkers are the people who suffer most from overtime pay requirements because they will continue to earn less in overall income.
- Washington state’s farms would operate in a $2.6 billion deficit if farmworkers work schedules were returned to a 55-hour workweek.
Year-over-year increases in food production and grocery costs differ dramatically. Between 2020 and 2021, the cost of food production increased 50 percent from one year to the next. During that time, grocery costs to consumer increased four percent. The 46 percent of “leftover” on-farm costs had to be covered by adjustments in how farms operated including an altering in farmwork schedules.
What does the disparity between on-farm costs and consumer food prices mean? It means farmers in the United States earn just $0.07 of every dollar consumers spend on groceries. A family of four with a moderate food budget spends approximately $300 each week; the share of that expense that goes back to farms is just $21.
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