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
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia’s Citrus Growers Face More Challenges Than Huanglongbing
August 27, 2015
As a kid growing up we all remember the arrival of Barnum & Bailey’s circus. The ads, the posters, the Read More
Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg
CitrusCounting Down The Top U.S. Colleges For Natural Resources And Conservation
August 25, 2015
STEM-fueled area of study presents wide field of opportunity for future grads. Read More
Charlotte's Web-medical marijuana in greenhouse
CitrusMedical Marijuana Endeavor Anything But Pipe Dream For Florida Nurseries
August 20, 2015
While applicants await fate for one of the five available licenses to weave ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ best-case-scenarios play out. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Farmers Feted For Water Quality Standards
August 20, 2015
Marking 20 straight years of success, producers help Everglades Agricultural Area exceed phosphorus reduction goals. Read More
old world bollworm climbing on vegetation
CitrusOld World Bollworm A Potential New Pain For Florida Farmers
August 20, 2015
Growers in the Sunshine State on high alert as serious pest is detected for the first time in the U.S. outside of port interceptions. Read More
CitrusUSDA To Pour $20 Million Into Frozen Orange Juice
August 20, 2015
Section 32 bonus purchase program money to help move mountain of surplus inventory. Read More
Sugar Belle brand LB 8-9 orange tree
Varieties & RootstocksPriority High On Producing Proprietary Citrus Varieties
August 19, 2015
Whether it’s industry acceptance or a business necessity, the number of operations registering to grow exclusive selections is increasing. Read More
The Latest
CitrusFederal Judge Blocks Clean Water Rule
August 28, 2015
  According to RISE (Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment), a federal judge in North Dakota has blocked implementation of Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusAnti-GMO-Fueled Threats Force Reallocation Of Biotech E…
August 27, 2015
University of Florida officials say plans are to re-allocate a donation intended to improve the public’s understanding of science after Read More
money
CitrusMonsanto Drops Current Bid For Syngenta Acquisition
August 27, 2015
Even with a revised proposal that sweetened the pot to $46.2 billion, financial expectations still fall flat. Read More
Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg
CitrusCounting Down The Top U.S. Colleges For Natural Resourc…
August 25, 2015
STEM-fueled area of study presents wide field of opportunity for future grads. Read More
Charlotte's Web-medical marijuana in greenhouse
CitrusMedical Marijuana Endeavor Anything But Pipe Dream For …
August 20, 2015
While applicants await fate for one of the five available licenses to weave ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ best-case-scenarios play out. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Farmers Feted For Water Quality Standards
August 20, 2015
Marking 20 straight years of success, producers help Everglades Agricultural Area exceed phosphorus reduction goals. Read More
old world bollworm climbing on vegetation
CitrusOld World Bollworm A Potential New Pain For Florida Far…
August 20, 2015
Growers in the Sunshine State on high alert as serious pest is detected for the first time in the U.S. outside of port interceptions. Read More
CitrusUSDA To Pour $20 Million Into Frozen Orange Juice
August 20, 2015
Section 32 bonus purchase program money to help move mountain of surplus inventory. Read More
CitrusMaps Show Impending Impact From WOTUS
August 19, 2015
Plots indicate expansion of EPA’s reach across Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Montana. Read More
branches covered in ice
CitrusWicked Winter Coming This Way Says Latest Farmer’s Alma…
August 17, 2015
Super El Niño-influenced weather patterns align to paint a less-than-pretty portrait. Read More
dripping orange
CitrusFeeling The Squeeze, Florida Citrus Taking Stock Of Fut…
August 12, 2015
A look back on the 2014-2015 citrus season reveals major economic questions, concerns. Read More
man trying to prevent from being boxed in by boxes
CitrusEconomic Progress A Threat To Box In Agriculture [Opini…
August 11, 2015
For growers, buffer zones, noise ordinances, nutrient runoff concerns, and sinkhole threats all are factors heightened with nearby neighbors. Instead of trying to beat them, why not join them? Read More
CitrusAlico Bucks Trend Related To Current Citrus Struggles
August 10, 2015
Despite the 2014-2015 season yielding smallest crop in nearly 50 years, Florida-based company boasts marked growth in harvest, sales. Read More
Keith Jones
CitrusBiopesticide Industry Alliance Names Keith Jones As New…
August 10, 2015
The Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA) announced its selection of Keith Jones as its new executive director. Mr. Jones is an Read More
Immokalee< FL, Farm and Grove aerial view
CitrusFlorida Farmland Remains Hot Commodity
August 5, 2015
Recent multimillion-dollar deal involving Immokalee citrus grove is among several high-acreage, high-dollar transactions. Read More
CitrusResearchers Say Drones Will Play A Major Role In Farmin…
August 4, 2015
Texas A&M AgriLife researchers say the technology will offer growers precise information about their crops. Read More
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
money
CitrusBankrupt Florida Farm To Yield Plenty Of Land, Equipmen…
July 30, 2015
As many as seven different buyers could be part of this Chapter 11 proceeding. Read More