Border Crisis Not Helping Farmers

As if the debate over comprehensive immigration reform was not difficult enough, the recent influx of immigrants, many of them unaccompanied children, from Central America has only made things more polarized.
Some estimates put the crossings in the hundreds of thousands during the past couple of years. As these people are spread out across the country in what looks more like detention centers than shelters, to call it a humanitarian crisis is an understatement.
Meanwhile, many of those who have drawn a hard line on border security and are against amnesty are even more steadfast in their stance, overloading the Capitol Hill phone system more than once as the debacle unfolds.

Farmworkers picking tomatoesThose on the pro-amnesty side have dug in their heels and await President Obama to take executive action to address the issue. At presstime, that action had not been taken, but whatever it might be, it is sure to only add to the contention felt by the other side.
Totally lost in the media coverage and political debate over the current immigration flare up are the needs of American agriculture, which for years has lobbied for any sort of reform that could help sustain a legal and reliable workforce to grow and harvest the nation’s crops.

Failed Leadership

According to Mike Carlton, director of labor relations for FFVA, what is happening now on the border shines a light on the failed leadership coming out of Washington, DC.
“Like other immigration issues that have cropped up from time to time, the current crisis on the border has provided significant cover for those in Congress who either don’t want to do the hard work it takes to create significant and useful immigration reform or who haven’t yet grasped the full extent of agriculture’s problem and the effect it will have on the nation’s domestic food supply and the country’s food security.
“The President seems to be committed to using executive action to affect the immigration issue. However, the immigration issues impacting most of labor intensive agriculture, such as the dysfunction of the H-2A guestworker program, are unlikely to be adequately addressed through executive action.”

Challenges In The Field

As both sides harden their position, growers face the same challenges and uncertainties as always. And in some cases, it is getting worse.
“Labor is without a doubt the single biggest concern facing our company and our industry as a whole,” says tomato grower Tony DiMare of Ruskin-based DiMare Fresh. “We must have an adequate and legal supply of labor.”
“The labor supply for the 2013-2014 season could be described as barely adequate, with the supply of domestic labor in agriculture continuing to shrink,” Carlton says. “The growth in usage of the complex H-2A agricultural guestworker program over the last two or three years is both an indication of the tightening of the domestic labor supply and the sole reason Florida’s ag labor supply was not critically short-handed.”

Unified Voice

Despite years of disappointments, farm groups have not given up hope in securing some level of reform that would help their grower constituents with mounting labor supply and
legal challenges.
“Most of the nation’s agricultural groups, under the umbrella of the Agricultural Workforce Coalition, are united in attempting to find a solution to our labor problem,” Carlton says. “The most complete solution will remain legislation that addresses agriculture’s unique labor needs and that goal will remain a priority. However, discussions continue to take place among the nation’s ag leadership to seek any solution available.
“Agricultural immigration reform is not only a humanitarian issue in itself, it is an economic issue and a job-saving issue. Every job in the field supports two or three mainstream jobs in industries such as banking, transportation, and services to name a few and those jobs continue to be at risk as long as Congress fails to act.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Border Crisis Not Helping Farmers

  1. Just amazing how no one in D.C. understands how desperate this ag worker situation is…….for every farm worker (the job no one wants) there are three or more jobs created for those that work off farm…these jobs are created by agriculture!

  2. H2a doing away with small domestic labor contract crews doing away with small buisn. Owners only powerful wealthy Companys putting small buisn. Out and lowering paying h2a the federal maintained rate win win for big little domestic workers on government assistance

Citrus Stories
CitrusNominees Sought For Florida Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award
January 26, 2015
Honor recognizes those developing and adopting environmentally innovative farming practices. Read More
CitrusIncreased Global Trade Opportunity Equals New Threats For Crops [Opinion]
January 26, 2015
Despite expanding business abroad, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says he's confident in the protocols in place to prevent entry of invasive pests and disease. Read More
CitrusShopping For UAVs? Here Are 2 To Consider
January 25, 2015
Check out a couple of high-flying options from Altavian. Read More
OrangesScientists Center On Sweet Spot For Processed Oranges
January 24, 2015
Unique approaches and techniques being employed to sustain and squeeze more out of critical research. Read More
Apples & PearsSurvey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Horticulture, Agriculture
January 22, 2015
Preliminary results of a survey conducted in December 2014 of more than 850 readers across six Meister Media Worldwide titles Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Marches North In California Citrus Belt
January 22, 2015
Part of one of the richest agricultural areas in the U.S., Fresno County, has been quarantined. Read More
Apples & PearsReal-World Solutions Highlight First Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow
January 22, 2015
Topping the inaugural event's marquee are presentations on “Driving Crop Quality and Productivity Using Biocontrols” by representatives from two of the largest produce growing organizations in the country. Read More
The Latest
CitrusWith Big Data Comes Big Concerns For Agriculture [Opini…
January 30, 2015
Many believe technologies like UAVs and precision ag represent the second Green Revolution, but it only will happen if farmers feel safe using them. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Is Still A Big Deal [Opinion]
January 28, 2015
Even while in the grips of greening, citrus continues to be a big contributor to the Sunshine State's economy. Read More
CitrusNominees Sought For Florida Agricultural Environmental …
January 26, 2015
Honor recognizes those developing and adopting environmentally innovative farming practices. Read More
CitrusIncreased Global Trade Opportunity Equals New Threats F…
January 26, 2015
Despite expanding business abroad, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says he's confident in the protocols in place to prevent entry of invasive pests and disease. Read More
CitrusShopping For UAVs? Here Are 2 To Consider
January 25, 2015
Check out a couple of high-flying options from Altavian. Read More
Apples & PearsSurvey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Hor…
January 22, 2015
Preliminary results of a survey conducted in December 2014 of more than 850 readers across six Meister Media Worldwide titles Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Marches North In California Citrus…
January 22, 2015
Part of one of the richest agricultural areas in the U.S., Fresno County, has been quarantined. Read More
Apples & PearsReal-World Solutions Highlight First Biocontrols 2015 C…
January 22, 2015
Topping the inaugural event's marquee are presentations on “Driving Crop Quality and Productivity Using Biocontrols” by representatives from two of the largest produce growing organizations in the country. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches Latest Insecticide, Sivanto
January 20, 2015
New product delivers precision pest control to preserve the health of plants and protect fruit and vegetable crops. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Stay Grounded When Reaching For Lofty Go…
January 20, 2015
Unmanned aerial vehicles are all the rage. Can and will this technology become a standard tool for farmers? Read More
CitrusScientists Say 2014 Warmest Year Since 1880
January 19, 2015
Separate studies by NASA and NOAA confirm continuance of long-term warming trend. Read More
CitrusFormer Florida Citrus Packers Leader Passes Away Unexpe…
January 19, 2015
Richard Kinney was a longtime liason and champion for the industry. Read More
CitrusElevated Expectations For UAV Use In Agriculture
January 15, 2015
Uncertainties aside, many believe unmanned aircraft will find a lasting place in farming. Read More
CitrusFire Ravages California Citrus Packinghouse
January 15, 2015
Close to $1 million worth of boxes, pallets reportedly burned up at Sunkist-operated facility. Read More
CitrusLatest Florida Citrus Forecast Hits Season’s First Snag
January 12, 2015
Overall orange production reduced by 5 million boxes. Read More
CitrusFreeze Threat Has Florida Growers On Alert
January 7, 2015
Technology to help producers prepare for, endure cold snap. Read More
CitrusStudy Predicts No Farmers And Ranchers Under Age 35 By …
January 7, 2015
Research conducted in Wyoming examines how the agricultural community is aging and what needs to be done to encourage young people to pursue a career in farming. Read More
CitrusDitch Party Politics To Move Forward With Immigration R…
January 3, 2015
The President’s proposed immigration plan has drawn criticism from agricultural sectors, but is an important first step in fixing the long-broken system. Read More