Begin Main Content Area

Farm Labor Camp Housing

A Seasonal Farm Labor Camp is living quarters, including housing accommodations, motels, rooming houses, dormitories, and mobile homes maintained directly or indirectly in connection with any work of or place where work is being performed by seasonal farm workers, whether or not rent is paid or reserved for use or occupancy.  The Seasonal Farm Labor Act and regulation sets standards for conditions of work, living quarters, occupancy, camp sanitation, food facilities, fire protection, and safety of seasonal farm workers. This program applies to:

  • One or more individuals employed in agricultural labor on a seasonal or other temporary basis AND
  • camps owned, leased, or operated by an employer or farm labor contractor where four or more unrelated individuals occupy the camp on a yearly basis.

A Seasonal Farm Worker is an individual who:

  • Resides in living quarters owned, leased, or operated by an employer or a farm labor contractor and occupied by four or more unrelated individuals. OR
  • Works with agricultural commodities or farm products, as defined by law, on a seasonal or other temporary basis. OR
  • Perform agricultural labor on a seasonal or other temporary basis.

Who is an employer? 

An individual, firm, partnership, association, trust, corporation, or a person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee employing or permitting to work a seasonal farm worker.

What is a farm labor contractor?

A person, who for payment, wages, salary, fees or other consideration, either for himself or on behalf of another person, recruits, solicits, hires, furnishes or transports five or more seasonal farm workers in a calendar year for employment in agriculture or agriculture-related industry.

What is Seasonal or Temporary?

"Seasonal" - work performed at certain seasons or periods of the year and from its nature cannot be continuous or carried on throughout the year.

"Temporary" - Individual is employed for less then one year OR occupancy of living quarters away from the person's domicile for the purpose of agricultural labor.

What is a seasonal farm labor camp permit?

Any seasonal farm labor camp within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is required to hold a valid permit prior to occupancy of the camp.  Permits are issued yearly after a satisfactory housing inspection is complete.  There is no fee for the camp permit.  A routine unannounced inspection will also occur within the permitting year.

Who should apply?

All persons, businesses, corporations, etc., wishing to house farm workers are required to hold a valid permit with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.  The permit should be applied for sixty (60) days prior to the needed date of occupancy.

How do I obtain a permit?

In order to obtain a permit, please fill out and submit for approval the following forms: Camp Permit Cover Letter, Camp Permit Application, Camp Plan Review Checklist and Camp Plan Review Form, which can all be located under Forms.

An application should be filed at least 60 days prior to the needed occupancy date.  Once the application is received, a sanitarian will contact the camp operator to make all necessary arrangements for survey inspections.  Once a satisfactory pre-permit inspection is complete, you will be allowed to occupy the camp and a permit from the Harrisburg office will shortly follow.  The permit is valid for 1 year.  Renewals take place yearly after a completed pre-permit inspection.  Throughout the year, an unannounced inspection will occur.

Who has to obtain a permit?

Any employer or farm labor contractor who houses farm workers needs to hold a valid permit.  This includes, but is not limited to, farmers, growers, landowners, associations, employment agencies, employers, or farm labor contractor.


Water testing requirements in SFLC with non-public water systems

  • Coliform - Annually
  • Nitrate - may reduce testing to annually IF the MCL's are 5 mg/l or less for 4 consecutive samples.  If at any time MCLs are elevated above 5mg/l, quarterly testing must be re instituted.

All camps with elevated Nitrates shall post a nitrate advisory.  Continued elevated Nitrate levels could result in action under the PA safe drinking water act.  Water test results shall be available during all pre-permit inspections.  Failure to have current water tests will delay obtaining a permit from the department.  Public, community water supplies, and public non-community water supplies shall contact the Department of Environmental Protection for details on testing requirements.

Laws & Regulations

US Department of Labor versus Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Camp housing units in Pennsylvania are also occasionally inspected by the United States Department of Labor, Division of Wage and Hour under MSPA (Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act), utilizing either OSHA or ETA regulations.  Some differences exist between the Federal regulations and the Pennsylvania regulations, 7 PA Code Chapter 82 governing camps in Pennsylvania.  The following charts highlight the difference between the two agencies.

Employer Services

The Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership (BWDP) is designated by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), as the State Workforce Agency (SWA); BWDP is a partner of PA CareerLinkTM.

The SWA helps agricultural employers meet their labor needs by referring available, qualified U.S. workers, to agricultural job orders before the employer recruits foreign workers.  The SWA assists migrant and seasonal agricultural workers by providing the full range of employment services available through the PA CareerLinkTM as well as referral to supportive agencies.  The SWA also conducts prevailing wage and prevailing practice surveys for select crop harvesting activities and provides the information to the USDOL.

During the harvest season, the SWA representatives and State Monitor Advocate conduct outreach to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers and offer referral assistance to employers to ensure that they will have workers to harvest the crops.  The SWA also assists the agricultural employer to file an agricultural clearance order to bring foreign workers to ensure the crops are harvested on time.  Additionally, the state's Bureau of Labor Law Compliance, assists crew leaders with their applications for Federal and State Farm Labor Contractor Licenses.

The Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership State Workforce Agency can be contacted at 717-787-6521.

PA CareerLinkTM administers an Internet based labor exchange titled the Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS).  This self-service, automated system enables employers, attorneys, agents to independently post job openings and search for workers.  It enables job seekers to search through job openings and to submit their resumes or job applications to employers or their representative Point of Contact (POC).