Posts tagged Agriculture Law
ICE Audits Expected To Increase This Summer

As previously reported, investigations by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are expected to increase, especially throughout this summer.  They will be scrutinizing suspected, undocumented workers and the businesses that employ them. 

Time is of the essence. Review your ICE Audit & Raid Plan in the event your business receives an unexpected visit from this federal agency.  Your ICE Audit & Raid Plan should establish your protocols for responding to a workplace audit or raid.

WHAT EMPLOYERS SHOULD KNOW

  • Be aware — Understand that violations have serious consequences including monetary penalties and arrests of unauthorized workers and employers.
  • Be prepared — Plan for the possibility of receiving a Notice of Inspection (NOI) of your Forms I-9 or a workplace "raid."
  • Be ready — Ensure the identity and work authorization is verified for each employee with a Form I-9.

DON’T DELAY – PREPARE NOW

You can never anticipate if this activity will impact your business. It is important to have proactive measures in place including an ICE Audit & Raid Plan, and to keep your employees calm during such a disruptive time. 

If you need assistance or advice, contact an attorney at JDSA Law.

IMPACT: The Tariff War on Washington Apple Growers

These tariffs could end up hurting not only the growers in our state, but also families across Washington and the larger Washington economy.

At the end of May, U.S. President Trump imposed import tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada. This could have a significant economic impact far beyond the steel and aluminum industries. 

On the heels of this announcement, Mexico declared they, in turn, will levy tariffs on imports of U.S. products including pork, cheese, potatoes and, you guessed it, Washington State apples.  And, as the largest foreign customer for Washington State Apple Growers, the effects of these tariffs will hit those in our own backyard.

How might this effect our local economy?

As widely known, Washington exports apples across the globe. This has a huge impact to our local economy —  not only for the companies that grow, pack and ship apples, but also for the workers who harvest them.  Mexico is the largest export market for Washington Apple Growers.  Each year, Washington exports $200-$250 million in apples to Mexico, which is approximately 10 percent of its total market.  Mexico's recent announcement to impose their own tariffs on apple imports from the U.S. means that Washington apple growers have to find other markets, to export apples. Perhaps, shipping to other states within the U.S. or exporting to other countries who do not impose import tariffs.  Regardless of where these new buys come from, creating and fostering those relationships does not happen overnight.

While the Trump administration says the goal of these import tariffs is to improve American manufacturing and protect U.S. steel and aluminum producers, members of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives disagree. Many fear that American farmers and American companies will lose their foreign markets due to these import tariffs, which could take years to get back if tariffs are ever lifted.  Additionally, these tariffs could end up hurting not only the growers in our state, but also families across Washington and the larger Washington economy. 

What will be the lasting impact? 

On the surface, it may seem these import tariffs could benefit American makers of steel and aluminum by making foreign metals more expensive. However, a lasting negative impact on other U.S. companies, the economy, and consumers across the country is quite possible.  Only time will tell the true impact of these tariffs on the U.S., and how long the impact will last.

We will update you as additional information on this topic emerges.

Visit the JDSA Blog regularly, and stay up-to-date with news and information that impact you. 

Technology + Agriculture = Success
By Colleen M. Frei

By Colleen M. Frei

Technology is everywhere.  For most, it's the method utilized to consume news, plan vacations, and communicate with friends and family.  But when you enjoy a glass of delicious Washington wine, or take a bite of a crisp Washington apple, do you ever stop to consider the technology needed to fulfill that experience?

Technology is increasingly important—and necessary—for how agricultural businesses evolve and thrive.  Consider these recent examples:

In an article published by Bloomberg, establishing a winery goes beyond purchasing a vineyard and simply growing grapes.  Larry Stone, a master sommelier and former Napa Valley resident, uses technology and innovation in his custom-made tanks to integrate lines that allow for both heating and cooling. Plus, his chardonnay room has a separate heating system to accommodate the colder Oregon nights.  This winery also utilizes a unique European press device that controls the intensity of the grape press in order to produce the desired result.  Technology is something this winery is proud to incorporate into its business.
Equally impressive is a new technology being used at Iowa State University (ISU) to study the effect of water on plants.  In an article published by Science Daily, scientists at ISU have developed graphene-based, sensors-on-tape that can be attached to plants to provide data to researchers and farmers about water use in crops.  This technology opens doors for scientists and farms to begin breeding plants with better water efficiency, and paves the way for further expansion of technology sensors to monitor the environment and test crops for diseases or pesticides.

These examples highlight some different ways innovation and technology is shaping the way the agriculture industry is doing business.  As always, the attorneys at JDSA Law strive to remain current with the latest news and technology, and assist our clients in this dynamic and exciting agricultural landscape. 

Stay current with us, about the changes that may impact you. Check out our podcast and blog for more news and legal topics.

Are You a Farm Labor Contractor? The Answer May Surprise You.

If your workers are performing duties on property not owned by the entity paying them, then the entity with the payroll account is a farm labor contractor.

Prior to state or federal involvement, a market existed within the agriculture industry for those who could gather a crew of workers and bring that crew to various farmers to help with certain tasks – be it harvest, pruning or general labor.  The farmer would pay the “crew boss”, and it was the responsibility of the crew boss to then pay the workers.  However, this second payment, the one to the workers, didn’t always reach the folks who did the actual work.  When the workers complained or brought charges, the crew boss was often gone. Into the wind. After receiving enough complaints of this practice and then being unable to track down the perpetrator, the United States Department of Labor created the Farm Labor Contractor registration program.  Washington State later adopted its own set of rules, known as the Washington Farm Labor Contractor Act (the “Act”), modeled after the federal registration program. 

The policy behind this registration program is to stop those who do not pay their workers and then can’t be found for prosecution.  Under the federal program, if you are an “agricultural employer” and either own or lease land (thus allowing yourself to be found by authorities), you do not need to register as a farm labor contractor.  Agricultural employers in Washington held the belief that the Washington registration program had the same exception until the Washington State Supreme Court, on March 3, 2016, issued a decision to the contrary.  This case, Saucedo v. John Hancock Life & Health Insurance, has significantly impacted almost every agricultural employer within the state of Washington. 

For example, let’s say you own two orchards... 

The orchards are next to each other, yet are held in two separate entities: Farm A, LLC and Farm B, LLC.  All employees are processed under Farm A, LLC.  If you operate under this structure, or any similar structure, then Farm A, LLC is considered a farm labor contractor, and must apply for a license.  If your workers are performing their duties on property not owned by the entity that is paying them, the entity with the payroll account is a farm labor contractor and must register with L&I.