Parties Agree to Dismiss Ninth Circuit Appeal in Farmworker Survey Suit

On Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture filed an unopposed motion to dismiss the appeal in a Ninth Circuit court case around a new rule which was contested by United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation.  The USDA previously appealed decisions by the district court to halt a new rule it had submitted for completing farmworker surveys. 

Opening briefs in the appeal had not yet been filed, after the court granted an extension the first brief was set to be filed on Wednesday, February 24. The lawsuit originated in the California Eastern District Court where the plaintiffs claimed the USDA’s new rule breached the Administrative Procedure Act because it canceled a farmworker report for 2020 and did not provide a sufficient replacement. 

Although the Department of Labor did file a new rule which was designed to replace the farmworker survey done by the USDA, the plaintiffs continued to claim that the injunction granted by the court was required for information to be available for determining Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR) for the year 2021. According to United Farm Workers, the survey and other administrative steps done by the USDA and Department of Labor are important for determining wage rates specifically for H-2A guest workers. The plaintiffs also filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor to contest their new rule. 

Sonny Perdue, now-former Secretary of Agriculture, filed the appeal in December 2020 contesting the court’s decision to grant the United Farm Workers’ motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order, as well as the court’s decision to deny the USDA’s efforts to change or dissolve the injunction and restraining order. 

The United Farm Workers are represented by Farmworker Justice and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. The defendants, including Sonny Perdue, William Northerly, and the USDA, are represented by the United States Department of Justice.