Immigration Reform A Work In Progress

Lisa Lochridge 2012

The presidential election was a game-changer for the prospect of immigration reform and a solution for agricultural employers. After a significant Hispanic turnout that proved to be pivotal for President Obama’s re-election, we’ve seen a shift in attitude by congressional Republicans who have long resisted comprehensive reform.

Reform is a top priority for the president, and he has vowed to get legislation passed this year. Attorney Monte Lake of the Washington law firm CJ Lake gave FFVA’s board of directors an update at their winter meeting in January. He told the group that the current environment is the best opportunity agriculture has had in more than a decade to see reform happen. Legislators are open to the idea, talking more positively and showing willingness to help agriculture. “That’s a reason to hope,” Lake said. “We feel we have a real window to get something done this year.” What’s more, Sen. Marco Rubio has embraced reform, laying out plans of his own for legislation. “The goal is to give American agriculture a reliable workforce and to give protection to these workers as well. When someone is [undocumented], they’re vulnerable to being exploited,” he told the Wall Street Journal in January.

Lake applauded Rubio’s leadership for wading into difficult political waters. “He’s willing to take on all of those issues. That’s a very positive development because it’s a critical part of what we need as an industry,” he said. “We have a senator with the right politics in the right state working hard on this issue.”

Together We Stand

One of the keys to a solution that makes sense for all of agriculture is for the industry to be united. That may be stating the obvious, but it hasn’t necessarily been the case in the past. To that end, FFVA is a founding member of the newly formed Agriculture Workforce Coalition. The group serves as a single voice to seek legislation that will ensure American farmers have a legal, stable, and adequate workforce to plant and harvest their crops. Americans won’t be fed by Americans if there aren’t workers to do these jobs (which, by the way, Americans won’t do).

In addition to FFVA, founding organizations of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition include the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Nursery and Landscape Association, National Council of Agricultural Employers, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, USA Farmers, U.S. Apple Association, United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers, and Western United Dairymen.

Two-Pronged Approach

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition has proposed a two-part framework for reform that addresses both the current and future employment needs of farmers, ranchers, and nurseries. Rather than trying to cobble together a fix for the notoriously hard-to-use H-2A program or revive the failed AgJOBS bill, the coalition supports a new approach. First, the coalition advocates an agricultural visa program to ensure agriculture has a future workforce. The program would have two components. One is market-based, allowing workers to move among job opportunities without a contract. The other, for employers and workers who like the commitment of a contract, would allow employees to agree to work for a single employer for a fixed period of time. Second, the coalition supports an adjustment in legal status for experienced but unauthorized workers already in the U.S. These workers would be required to fulfill certain obligations, including working for a required period of time in agriculture.

“The need for able and willing agricultural workers goes beyond state boundaries,” said Mike Stuart, FFVA president. “It’s a critical issue for our nation. As a coalition representing all sectors of agriculture from across the country, we’re seeking a bipartisan solution that will provide the workforce that American farmers need to continue growing and harvesting abundant, safe, and healthful food for our country.”

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
raindrops in standing water
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance, Water Testing, and Farm Inspections Announced
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
citrus grove damage from Irma at SWFREC in Immokalee
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts of Irma
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 11, 2017
The Grower’s Take: Citrus, HLB, and Biological Control
Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice brand has enjoyed steady growth since its 2002 inception. The brand’s success is due to Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Talking
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
Florida oranges
Citrus
August 31, 2017
Extra Early Florida Citrus Forecast Calling For Sunshine
Marked increase in production predicted for the next crop of oranges. Read More
Citrus
August 30, 2017
How Harvey May Impact Specialty Crop Growers
The devastating human toll from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has rightly dominated news coverage. Growers and those who work with them, however, should also think about how this historic storm will also affect them.  Read More
Insect & Disease Update
August 28, 2017
California Extends Citrus Quarantine
A 94-square mile area of San Bernardino, Riverside counties now a part of state huanglongbing quarantine. Read More
Strawberry fieldworker in Florida
Citrus
August 28, 2017
Specialty Crop Concern Feeds Need to Negotiate NAFTA Now
Although trade talk objectives may not deliver the short-term relief for Florida fruit and vegetable growers, they appear on the right track. Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Citrus
August 28, 2017
3 More Florida Growers Given Green Light to Cultivate Medicinal Cannabis
Once exclusive enterprise continues to expand for more seeking to engage alternative crop endeavor. Read More
multiple hands holding a plate full of veggies
Citrus
August 27, 2017
USDA Releases Software to Help Small Operations with Food Safety Plans
While the free tool was primarily designed for use by small firms, any size manufacturer can opt to use it. Read More
Workers picking in a Florida strawberry field
Citrus
August 25, 2017
Transcending Farm Labor Crisis No Easy Task [Opinion]
Technology could be on cusp of fixing labor problems for growers of crops that are traditionally hand harvested. Read More
two-spotted spider mite
Citrus
August 25, 2017
California EPA Seeking to Review Chlorpyrifos
Department of Pesticide Regulation, Office of Environmental Health pursuing health protections. Read More
Citrus
August 23, 2017
Varroa Mite Researchers Talk High Infestations in Bee Colonies
In 2016, The New York State Beekeeper Tech Team (which is attached to Cornell University’s Dyce Lab Beekeeping Resources) found that Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers…
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance…
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts…
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 11, 2017
The Grower’s Take: Citrus, HLB, and Biol…
Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice brand has enjoyed steady growth since its 2002 inception. The brand’s success is due to Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Ta…
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon …
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
Citrus
August 31, 2017
Extra Early Florida Citrus Forecast Call…
Marked increase in production predicted for the next crop of oranges. Read More
Citrus
August 30, 2017
How Harvey May Impact Specialty Crop Gro…
The devastating human toll from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has rightly dominated news coverage. Growers and those who work with them, however, should also think about how this historic storm will also affect them.  Read More
Citrus
August 28, 2017
Specialty Crop Concern Feeds Need to Neg…
Although trade talk objectives may not deliver the short-term relief for Florida fruit and vegetable growers, they appear on the right track. Read More
Citrus
August 28, 2017
3 More Florida Growers Given Green Light…
Once exclusive enterprise continues to expand for more seeking to engage alternative crop endeavor. Read More
Citrus
August 27, 2017
USDA Releases Software to Help Small Ope…
While the free tool was primarily designed for use by small firms, any size manufacturer can opt to use it. Read More
Citrus
August 25, 2017
Transcending Farm Labor Crisis No Easy T…
Technology could be on cusp of fixing labor problems for growers of crops that are traditionally hand harvested. Read More
Citrus
August 25, 2017
California EPA Seeking to Review Chlorpy…
Department of Pesticide Regulation, Office of Environmental Health pursuing health protections. Read More
Citrus
August 23, 2017
Varroa Mite Researchers Talk High Infest…
In 2016, The New York State Beekeeper Tech Team (which is attached to Cornell University’s Dyce Lab Beekeeping Resources) found that Read More
Citrus
August 23, 2017
Advice From the FDA on How Growers Can K…
Want tips that will keep your operation on the right side of the FDA when it comes to food safety? American Vegetable Grower® decided the best advice would come directly from the FDA itself.  Read More