Many complex state and federal laws have been enacted since the depression era in an effort to protect workers in all industries. These laws regulate many aspects of employment including wages, working conditions, immigration, and employment opportunities. Application of these laws to agricultural employees is often more complicated because special exemptions and exceptions are provided for their employers. The complicated nature of laws and regulations for agricultural employers requires special vigilance to maintain compliance with the myriad of requirements. Read the full overview.

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Immigration and Nationality Act 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101-1107; 1151-1382; 1401-1504; 1521-1525; 1531-1537
National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 151-169
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1872
Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
Portal-to-Portal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 251-262
Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 651-678
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 136-136y
Immigration Reform and Control Act, (codified at scattered sections of 8 U.S.C.)


Temporary Employment of Foreign Workers in the U.S. Regulations, 20 C.F.R. §§ 655.0-655.1319
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Regulations, 29 C.F.R. §§ 500.0-500.271
Enforcement of Contractual Obligations for Temporary Alien Agricultural Workers … Regulations, 29 C.F.R. §§ 501.0-501.47
Child Labor Regulations, 29 C.F.R. §§ 570.1-570.5; 570.70-570.72; 570.123
Waiver of Child Labor Provisions for Agriculture Regulations, 29 C.F.R. §§ 575.1-575.9
Exemptions Applicable to Agriculture Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 C.F.R. §§ 780.0-780.1016

Occupational Safety and Health Standards for Agriculture:

Subpart H – Hazardous Materials, 29 C.F.R. §§1910.101-1910.113; 1910.119-1910.126
Subpart J – General Environmental Controls, 29 C.F.R. §§1910.141-1910.147
Subpart R – Special Industries, 29 C.F.R. §§1910.261-1910.266; 1910.268-1910.269; 1910.272
Subpart Z – Toxic and Hazardous Substances, 29 C.F.R. §§ 1910.1000-1910.1018; 1910.1020; 1910.1024-1910.1030; 1910.1043-1045; 1910.1047-1910.1048; 1910.1050-1910.1053; 1910.1096; 1910.1200-1910.1201; 1910.1450
Occupational Safety and Health Standards for Agriculture Regulations, 29 C.F.R. §§ 1928.1-1928.1027
Worker Protection Standard Regulations, 40 C.F.R. §§170.1-170.609
Certification of Pesticide Applicators Regulations, 40 C.F.R. §§ 171.1-171.311
Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

Case Law Index for Labor

Administrative Law Decisions

U.S. Department of Justice Office Immigrant and Employee Rights
National Labor Relations Board Decisions
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Decisions
U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Administrative Law Judges
Board of Immigration Decisions

Center Research Publications

State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL @Urbana)
Proposed Changes for Child Labor in Agriculture (Rumley, 2011)
Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers (National AgLaw Center & U. AR Division of Agriculture, 2011)
Agricultural Labor: An Employer’s Obligations and Responsibilities – PowerPoint Presentation (Springsteen, 2009)
Handbook of Laws and Regulations Affecting Arkansas Farm Employers and Employees (Looney & Copeland, 1993)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects– published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Farm Labor
Farm Policy & Legislative Analysis

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Labor:

Farm Labor

Farm Labor: Aliens
Farm Labor: Child Labor
Farm Labor: Collective Bargaining
Farm Labor: General & Social Welfare

Farm Policy and Legislative Analysis

Farm Policy & Legislative Analysis: Domestic
Farm Policy & Legislative Analysis: International

Reference Resources

National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS)

Census of Agriculture
Data and Statistics
All Programs and Surveys (Guide to NASS Surveys and Programs)
Understanding Agricultural Statistics
Statistical Programs and Review

Economics, Statistics and Market Information System (USDA)

Farm Labor

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)

H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers (USCIS)

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Agricultural Safety

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Commuting Zones and Labor Market Areas
Documentation and Methods
Farm Labor
Rural Employment and Unemployment


Rural America at a Glance: 2022 Edition (Davis, Rupasingh, Cromartie, and Sanders, 2022)
The H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program in 2020 (Castillo, Martin, and Rutledge, 2022)
Adjusting to Higher Labor Costs in Selected U.S. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industries (Calvin, Martin, and Simnitt, 2022)
Farm Labor, Human Capital, and Agricultural Productivity in the United States (Wang, Hoppe, Hertz, and Xu, 2022)
Use of H-2A Guest Farm Worker Program More Than Triples in Past Decade (Simnitt and Castillo, 2021)
Woman Identified as Operators on 51 Percent of U.S. Farms in 2019 (Whitt and Todd, 2021)
U.S. Farm Employers Respond to Labor Market Changes with Higher Wages, Use of Visa Program, and More Women Workers (Castillo, 2020)
U.S. Hired Farm Workforce Is Aging (Hertz, 2019)
Rising Wages Point to a Tighter Farm Labor Market in the United States (Zahniser, Taylor, Hertz, and Charlton, 2019)
Farm Labor Markets in the United State and Mexico Pose Challenges for U.S. Agriculture (Zahniser, Taylor, Hertz, and Charlton, 2018)
Farm Households Divide Their Time Between On-Farm and Off-Farm Labor (Prager, 2018)
Immigration Policy and Its Possible Effects on U.S. Agriculture (Zahniser, Hertz, Dixon and Rimmer, 2012)
Profile of Hired Farmworkers, A 2008 Update (Kandel, 2008)
Hired Farmworkers a Major Input For Some U.S. Farm Sectors (Kandel, Amber Waves, 2008)
Summary of Federal Laws and Regulations Affecting Agricultural Employers, 2000

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Compliance Assistance Center
Worker Protection Standard
Occupational Pesticide Safety and Health
EPA Requires Stronger Standards for Applying the Riskiest Pesticides (2016)
Pesticide Worker Protection Standard “How to Comply” Manual
Federal Certification Standards for Pesticide Applicators

Department of Labor

Occupational Outlook Handbook – Agricultural Workers
Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act
Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
The National Agricultural Workers Survey
Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2017-2018
Industries at a Glance: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (Bureau of Labor and Statistics)
Employment Law Guide, Wages and Hours Worked: Worker Protections in Agriculture
Employment Law Guide, Wages and Hours Worked: Child Labor Protections (Agricultural Work)
H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program (Employment and Training Administration)
Labor Fact Sheets (Wage and Hour Division)
Compliance Assistance Employment Law Guide
H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Employment of Foreign Workers
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations (Bureau of Labor and Statistics)
State Labor Laws
Child Labor: Bulletin No. 102
Fact Sheet #12: Agricultural Employers Under FLSA

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Agricultural Operations
Compliance Assistance Specialists
Youth in Agriculture


Laws and Regulations
Training Requirements in OSHA Standards
State Safety and Health Plans

Final Rule to Improve Tracking Workplace Injuries and Illness
Publications: New Releases
Publications: Agricultural Operations
Prevent Heat Illness at Work

Office of the Chief Economist (USDA-OCE)

Labor Laws
Labor Data

New Farmer (USDA)

Labor and Farm Safety

Congressional Resources

Reports on Agriculture and Food (Government Accountability Office)

Additional Information Needed to Better Protect Workers from Pesticide Exposure (GAO, 2021)
Better Outreach, Collaboration, and Information Needed to Help Protect Workers at Meat and Poultry Plants (GAO, 2017)

Other Federal Resources

Agricultural Employer’s Tax Guide (Internal Revenue Service)
Workplace Safety and Health Topics: Agricultural Safety (NIOSH/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
National Ag Safety Database


National Center for Farmworker Health, Facts About Agricultural Workers
Evolving Agricultural Labor Markets (Charlton, Rutledge, and Taylor, 2021)
Agriculture and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Baker and Milhollin, Revised 2021)
Recordkeeping Self-Audit for H-2A Employers (Everhart, 2019)
A Guide to Agricultural Labor Laws: How Best to Comply with the Relevant Federal and Maryland State Standards (Pons, 2014)
Farm Safety Planning and OSHA Compliance (Carrabba, 2013)
Occupational Health of Hired Farmworkers in the United States (CDC, 1999)

Additional Resources

New York State Agriculture Labor Program
Agricultural Employers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Missouri Farm Labor Guide
New Entry Farm Labor
Farm Commons
Michigan State University Farm Management
NC State Agricultural and Resource Economics – Agricultural Labor
UVM Extension – Agricultural Labor Management