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
Port Tampa Bay shipping channel
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Panama Canal Expansion To Bring Trade Opportunities To Florida
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says a confluence of events is putting the state's producers in a good spot to open new markets. Read More
anti-GMO corn spoof via social media
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Social Media Posts On GMOs Falling Flat [Opinion]
Hopefully, the hysteria the West has perpetuated on genetic engineering will not stifle the potential of moving our production forward enough to help feed a growing global population. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human Health
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Florida Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam checks out prepared school lunches. School meals are looking more colorful these days as fresh produce finds a place on the tray.
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-To-School Programs
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyphosate Not Carcinogenic
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Food safety meeting for growers in Florida
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On Front Burner
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
Participants of a Citrus Health Roundtable hosted by Yara International pose for a post-event photo.
Insect & Disease Update
May 20, 2016
Yara International Pledges $100,000 To Support Florida Agriculture Students
Scholarship will fund University of Florida undergraduate and graduate students. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Says Bayer Bid ‘Financially Ina…
Proposal cited as undervalued, not able to address financial, regulatory risks. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2016
NRCS Invests $4.3 Million To Combat Clim…
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in California is committing funds to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the effects of climate change and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Panama Canal Expansion To Bring Trade Op…
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says a confluence of events is putting the state's producers in a good spot to open new markets. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Social Media Posts On GMOs Falling Flat …
Hopefully, the hysteria the West has perpetuated on genetic engineering will not stifle the potential of moving our production forward enough to help feed a growing global population. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human …
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-T…
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyph…
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On F…
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2016
Florida Farmland Becoming Big Deal For I…
Real estate values in the Sunshine State dictated by money looking for a home. Read More
Citrus
May 19, 2016
Bayer Makes Bid For Monsanto
Monsanto says proposal is being reviewed by board of directors as well as legal and financial advisors. Read More
Citrus
May 17, 2016
$130 Million In Funds For Fruit And Vege…
USDA allocates funds for Extension, organic production, food safety, and technology grants. Read More
Citrus
May 17, 2016
Border Protection Intercepts New Leafhop…
First of its kind found in European shipment. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2016
3 New Herbicides For Florida Farmers To …
Trio of unique crop protection chemistries beckoning growers to whack weeds with these. Read More
Citrus
May 10, 2016
California Citrus Industry Leaders Slam …
Proposal “defies logic,” because growers are already worried about being ravaged by citrus greening, says California Citrus Mutual. Read More
Citrus
May 10, 2016
Winning Streak Continues For Florida Ora…
Updated crop estimate from USDA reveals uptick for third month in a row. Read More
Citrus
May 10, 2016
Survey: Beekeepers Lost 44% Of Bees Last…
Responses indicate summer losses rival winter losses for second year in a row. Read More
Citrus
May 4, 2016
$6 Million Available For Antimicrobial R…
Program to develop strategies to reduce public health risks in food chain. Read More
Citrus
May 3, 2016
New Program Targets Abandoned California…
Bayer and California Citrus Mutual have teamed up to help protect the state’s commercial citrus industry from deadly citrus greening. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]