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July/August 2023
H-2A and beyond
By Mike Marsh

NCAE’s mission includes everything from heat stress to taxes

I was visiting with a grower the other day who told me, with some apparent relief, that he had not yet had to use the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program because he had been fortunate to find enough domestic workers. He was comforted that he didn’t have to wade through all the government bureaucracy and be confronted by mandated minimum wages devoid of market connection.

Constant flow of changes

Mike Marsh
Mike Marsh

He asked why the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) seemed to spend so much time working on the H-2A regulations.

I congratulated him on being able to miss out on all the fun!

The big reason for NCAE spending time on the H-2A regulations is that they are so often in flux. There is a seemingly constant flow of proposed changes to these rules and those changes have a direct economic impact on legacy family farming and ranching operations.

Educational webinars provide assistance

The grower said he appreciates the work NCAE does on non-H-2A issues that impact his operation. This past year he had participated in our webinars on heat stress regulations that will be proposed this coming year by OSHA. The information in both webinars gave him several ideas to help protect workers from heat stress. The discussion was helpful in getting him to think about how he would form his comments on the regulation after the proposal was published.

I told him we were pleased he found the information useful and that NCAE is always looking for new ideas on educational topics that would be of interest to ag employers.

He then thanked us for putting together a webinar on payroll tax issues, as he learned some valuable tips. The grower noted that the recorded information allowed him to review the information again, as his filing deadlines approached.

Additionally, we exchanged information about the Annual Ag Labor Forum in Las Vegas, because I had seen him and his wife there, and asked whether the topics were important for their business.

He responded they were absolutely on point. He enjoyed the presentation on the Fair Labor Standards Act. His wife found the Migrant and Seasonal Ag Worker Protection Act (MSPA) seminar insightful, and the discussion of recent MSPA cases helpful in protecting their business.The farm labor economics presentations helped him realize how impactful the H-2A program was on his business, even though he hasn’t used it yet. He said he hoped we could rein in the H-2A wage rates because he knew they were having a direct impact on his cost of production.

Finally, a forum presentation on the triggers which would require employee benefits be provided, such as health insurance and retirement, to his seasonal workers, had caused him to put a plan in place with his CPA and attorney.

I appreciated his feedback because to constantly improve NCAE, we need to hear what our members need to make their businesses better.

Michael Marsh, president and CEO for the National Council of Agricultural Employers, is a certified public accountant who focuses in the areas of forensic accounting and fraud investigation. He is a former director of finance for the Almond Board of California, who returned to his true passion advocating on behalf of America’s farmers and ranchers at NCAE. For more information, visit

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