Farm Labor Contractor Licensing

Farm labor contracting provides another way for farmers to hire workers.

Farmers often directly hire workers to harvest crops and do other agricultural duties. However, when a farmer pays an outside person, agency, or company, or even pays an employee an additional fee, to help find or hire laborers, then that person or company must be a licensed Farm Labor Contractor.

Contractors recruit, solicit, employ, supply, transport, and hire workers for farms and other agricultural work. Farm labor contracting law provides protections for these workers, such as:

  • Requiring a contract
  • Safe worker transportation
  • Ensuring meal and rest breaks
  • Getting paid

This work is defined in the Farm Labor Contractor Act (Chapter 19.30 RCW and Chapter 296-310 WAC).

About Farm Labor Contracting

Farm labor contracting activity detailed in the law includes:

  • Growing, producing, or harvesting crops or nursery products
  • Forestation or reforestation of lands, including planting, transplanting, and thinning trees
  • Harvesting Christmas trees

Farm labor contracting licenses from L&I are valid for a calendar year – January to December, no matter when you obtain the license. We recommend filing for a new license in November for the upcoming year. We send renewal packets to current license holders by mid-November.

There are two steps to determine whether you, as an employer, require licensing as a Farm Labor Contractor.

Step 1

First, determine if you are being paid to provide workers by doing any of the following activities:

  • Recruiting
  • Soliciting
  • Employing
  • Supplying
  • Transporting
  • Hiring

If you are doing any of these activities, then go to Step 2

Step 2

Determine if you are supplying workers to a farmer, or other agricultural employer, who is doing any of the following:

  • Growing, producing, or harvesting farm or nursery products.
  • Forestation or reforestation of lands, including planting, transplanting, tubing, pre-commercial thinning and thinning of trees and seedlings, the cleaning, piling, and disposal of brush and slash.
  • Harvesting Christmas trees, and other related activities.

If you are doing any of the activities in steps 1 and 2, then you must apply for a Farm Labor Contractor license.

Potential farm labor contracting scenarios

Here are some examples of how to determine if your business activities require a Farm Labor Contractor license. However, if you are unsure whether the activity requires an FLC, please call L&I Employment Standards Program at 1-866-219-7321, or email your question to ESGeneral@Lni.wa.gov.

Contracts and bidding for work
A farm labor contractor license is required in these and similar scenarios. If you:
  • Want to bid for work that requires a farm contractor license, you must have a license before bidding or soliciting for a contract.
  • Have a contract with the state Department of Natural Resources or U.S. Forest Service to work on forestation/reforestation projects, a license is often required.
A farm labor contractor license is not required in this and similar scenarios.
  • If your business has a contract with an agricultural employer, and you are performing the work on the farm, and none of your employees will perform the work, you do not need an FLC.
    • However, if your employees do any of the work, then you need an FLC.
Forestation and reforestation
A farm labor contractor license is required in these, and similar scenarios:
If you provide workers to cut trees and clear brush for fire prevention.
A farm labor contractor license is not required in these, and similar scenarios:
If my employees cut trees and clear brush to keep an active fire from spreading. This is firefighting.
Recruiting workers
A farm labor contractor license is required in this and similar scenarios:
  • If a business asks an employee to help find workers to harvest fruit, and says they will pay the employee $100 for every worker recruited, the employee will need an FLC license. The employee is being paid a fee to recruit workers.
A farm labor contractor license is not required in this and similar scenarios:
  • If a berry farm owner asks an employee to find some workers to pick strawberries. Because there is no fee or pay for recruiting, the employee does not need an FLC license.
Transporting workers
A farm labor contractor license is required in this, and similar scenarios:
A company crew boss uses their personal van to take eight to 10 workers to-and-from work each day. The company doesn’t pay the crew boss a fee, but instead reimburses auto insurance, maintenance, and gas expenses. In this scenario, the crew boss needs an FLC license.Although the crew boss is not paid directly for transporting the workers, the company is paying for their auto insurance, maintenance, and gas. This is considered a “valuable consideration,” which requires an FLC.
A farm labor contractor license is not required in these, and similar scenarios:
A private bus company or coach service is hired by a company to transport workers. Neither the company, nor the bus driver need an FLC license. They are operating as a “common carrier.”
Agricultural employers
A farm labor contractor license is required in these, and similar scenarios:
If you recruit, solicit, employ, supply, transport or hire workers for another farmer’s land, for a fee. You must register as an FLC.If you “loan” 100 workers to a farm owner, but continue to pay the workers’ wages – and the farmer then reimburses you for labor costs.
If you “loan” 300 workers to a farm owner, who hires and pays the workers, and the farmer also pays you $5,000 for “loaning” him the workers.
If you lease farmland from a company, but do all recruiting, soliciting, employing, transporting, or hiring of workers yourself – and the farmer pays you for managing the farmland and workers.
If you and four other family members own a farm, packing facility and orchards – each under a separate limited liability corporation (LLC), (in this example, called Penny Farms Inc.) and:
  • All workers are employees of Penny Farms Inc.
  • Each orchard sells its fruit to Penny Packers Inc.
  • Penny Farms Inc. bills each of the orchards for their share of labor costs.
Then the farm must have a license.
A farm labor contractor license is not required in these, and similar scenarios:
If you recruit, solicit, employ, supply, transport, or hire workers to work on your own farm, for your own business.
You recruit, solicit, employ, supply, transport, and hire workers (or any combination of these) for your own farm.
You “loan” a number of workers to a farmer, who hires and pays the workers from his own payroll. You are not paid a fee for the loan of your workers.
You lease farmland from a company, but do not receive a fee, or any other “valuable consideration,” from it for any of your work to recruit, solicit, employ, supply, transport, or hire workers to work on the leased land.
Apply for a Farm Labor Contractor License

There are several steps in the process to get a Farm Labor Contractor license.

1. Get a business license from the Department of Revenue (DOR). They will issue a Uniform Business Identifier (UBI) number for your business that you will use in your application.

2. Complete the Application for Farm Labor Contractor License (F700-014-000)

  • Attach a list of any agents and subcontractors who will be performing farm labor contractor activities under your license.

3. Application/Renewal fee payable to L&I

  • $35 for general farm labor contractors
  • $100 for forestation/reforestation contractors
  • $135 for both general farm labor and forestation/reforestation

4. Complete your state Tax Compliance Certificate forms and email them to the respective agency. Include them with your L&I license application packet after they are reviewed and returned to you.

5. Complete your federal Tax Compliance Certificate forms. The IRS will send the compliance certification approval directly to L&I.

6. Get a surety bond, assignment of account, time deposit, or cash deposit with L&I. The amount of the surety bond or deposit depends on the number of employees you wish to hire:

  • 1-10 employees - $5,000
  • 11-50 employees - $10,000
  • 51-100 employees - $15,000
  • 101 or more employees - $20,000

7. Surety bond paperwork. Include one of the following:

NOTE: We only need a new original Farm Labor Contractor Assignment of Account or Time Deposit form if the name, address, or phone number of your bank changed otherwise a copy is sufficient.

8. Proof of auto liability insurance, and the make, model, and license plate number of all insured vehicles you will use to transport workers. Auto liability coverage must be at least:

  • $100,000 liability per person
  • $500,000 liability per accident
  • $50,000 liability for property damage
Verify a Farm Labor Contractor

L&I is required to keep and post a list of licensed farm labor contractors monthly. If you are hiring a farm labor contractor that is not on this list, please contact us immediately to be sure your contractor is licensed.

If you use the services of unlicensed farm labor contractors, you may be held liable and receive up to a $1,000 fine for each violation.