1. DISASTER RESPONSE: IFPA is jointly working with California industry allies and government stakeholders to bypass or waive bureaucratic hurdles including assistance to the industry who are trying to resume operations and replant lost crops, identify the financial impact of the storm to determine the amount of ad-hoc disaster assistance that is needed and to consider changes to existing disaster programs that might be required to provide specialty crop producers greater access to financial relief.
2. AEWR REGS: IFPA and industry leaders continue to fight to overturn the Department of Labor’s AEWR disaggregation rule. On February 28, 2023, the Department of Labor released a rule that would require wages paid to H2A workers, and their domestic counterparts be disaggregated based on job duties. The rule requires that a worker must be paid the highest wage rate for any work that they do, regardless of the amount of time that they do that actual work. IFPA is supporting legislation (see below) and a legal case led by NCAE to block the rule.
3. AG IMMIGRATION ON THE HILL: Several pending legislation is currently active on Capitol Hill that would impact the fresh produce industry.
- Secure Border Act: The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the Secure Our Border Act which includes mandatory e-verify for agriculture after a three-year period. The legislation also includes the repeal of the AEWR program rule and disaggregated wage rule released by the Department of Labor.
- Congressional Review Act Resolutions: IFPA is supporting Joint Resolutions in the House and the Senate to repeal the disaggregated wage rule released by the Department of Labor earlier this year. The resolutions would subject the rule in question to the Congressional Review Act process and prevent it from taking effect.
- Farm Operations Support Act: Senators Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced legislation that would roll back the 2023 AEWR to the 2022 AEWR until 2024. This is a messaging bill intended to highlight the high cost of the AEWR and the need to rein it in. It is impractical to be put into effect as most of the contracts for 2023 are already signed and it would be impossible to claw back the money from employees.
4. CONCERNS AT PORTS: IFPA filed comments opposing a rule that would allow shipping companies to deny cargo such as produce because it does not align with their business priorities. In addition, we our supporting legislation that was left out of the final version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. Finally, we have requested the Administration engage in the ongoing labor disputes at west coast ports do not disrupt international trade of fresh produce.
5. REAUTHORIZING THE FARM BILL IN 2023: IFPA serves in a leadership role for a broad coalition known as the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. The Alliance represents U.S. specialty crop growers and shippers before Congress and. From improving access to crop insurance to support for research and innovation to increasing market competitiveness, the Alliance’s 109 recommendations are aimed at sustaining and growing the Nation’s specialty crop industry.
6. FRUIT AND VEGETABLES IN WIC: IFPA supports and has been pushing for a USDA proposed rule that would increase WIC vouchers in amounts consistent with federal dietary guidelines ($24/month for children ages 1-4; up to $48/month for mothers). The update is expected to drive up to $1 billion in produce sales in the year ahead, with more possible should participants stay enrolled in the program (many drop out after age one).
7. PRODUCE PRESCRIPTIONS: Four states are now covering produce prescriptions through Medicaid, with several more in the works. IFPA continues to drive policy change that will lead to monthly produce benefits being a standard part of healthcare coverage. What’s the opportunity? In just Medicare alone, when we overlay the percentage of Americans living with or at risk of diet-related disease and those who are food insecure, we can approximate that up to 30 million individuals could be eligible that could translate to $14.4B annually in fruits and vegetables.
8. REORGANIZATION AND REFORM AT FDA: IFPA is heavily engaged with food sector allies, the FDA, and Congress to demand FDA restructuring of the food agency that will improve the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness at ensuring a safe food supply and place a higher priority for food at FDA.
9. TRADE: IFPA is a founding member of the Global Fresh Produce Coalition which is looking at addressing global consumption and supply chain issues for fresh produce. In addition, IFPA serves as the Vice-Chair of the USDA/USTR Agriculture Trade Advisory Committee for Fruits and Vegetables.
10. SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING: IFPA has been involved in several initiatives related to global discussion on single-use packaging. Both the European Union and Canada are considering regulations that would limit the use of single-use packaging. For more information, please contact Dr. Max Teplitski, Chief Science Officer, IFPA.
Contact the government relations team.