On Thursday, Nov. 20, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to fix the current immigration system in the U.S. There are some protections for those who work in agriculture, but the president’s policy was not as sweeping as legislation proposed last year by the Senate.
“These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation,” says Tom Nassif, CEO and president of Western Growers.
Here is a roundup of comments made by key industry organizations following the president’s announcement:
- “The president’s measures do not address the issue of an agricultural workforce. Employers are still seeking a solution that will ensure that growers have access to a stable and secure workforce.” — Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
- “What farmers, ranchers and growers need, and what the American people deserve, is for policy makers in Washington to do their jobs and act to solve the country’s broken immigration system.“ — Agriculture Workforce Coalition
- “We believe both sides need to ratchet down the rhetoric and come to the table to get this done in 2015.” —United Fresh Produce Association
- “Only legislation can solve the problem which our leaders have recognized as our top priority for nearly a decade. A solution must include work authorization for the current workforce and the creation of a new, market-based visa program to meet future labor needs.” — USApple Association
- “We will oppose any piecemeal legislative package that fails to put the agriculture industry at the front of the line. Our industry is in jeopardy. We expect no less than specific solutions that address problems unique to our industry.” — Tom Nassif, Western Growers CEO and president
Need For Reform Is Great
There is some protection for those who work in agriculture, as this policy will likely protect 250,000 undocumented immigrants working on farms from deportation. According to the National Center for Farmworker Health, an estimated 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers help support a $28 billion fruit and vegetable industry in the U.S. Of those 3 million, it is estimated that 72% are foreign-born.
Source: Agriculture Workforce Coalition, United Fresh Produce Association, USApple Association, Western Growers, GrowingProduce.com staff
With the need for immigration reform increasing, learn how to express the needs of your business to policy makers in Washington. GenNext Growers offers a webcast featuring Florida Representative Ben Albritton on how growers can voice their concerns to help ensure a stronger future for the industry. Register here to view this webcast.