COALITION OF AG GROUPS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM
Feb. 4, 2014
Source: Agriculture Workforce Coalition news release
The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and more than 70 of the largest American agriculture groups today joined with the Partnership for a New American Economy to launch #IFarmImmigration, an agriculture campaign to support renewed efforts to enact immigration reform this year.
The campaign will stress the agriculture sector's critical need for immigration reform with activities online and on the ground, in Washington D.C. and in key districts. The month starts with a Capitol Hill Briefing on Wednesday, February 5,where Congressional staff will hear from farmers and ranchers about the need for immigration reform.
The campaign will also release new research on labor shortages and throughout the month, farmers and ranchers will be on the ground telling their stories through farm tours, social and traditional media, videos, and community events for members of Congress in their districts.
"Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "This campaign will highlight how many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force and without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor intensive crops or go off shore. Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food."
"For the past year, the AWC, which includes AFBF and over 70 other farm organizations, has been agriculture's unified voice in seeking meaningful immigration reform for farmers, ranchers and growers across the country," said AWC Spokesman Chuck Conner, the president & CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. "This partnership is especially timely, with the House Republican caucus recently releasing their principles on immigration reform and recognizing in them the labor needs of agriculture."
"With the recent release of Republican immigration standards and the highlighting of agriculture's unique need for action, it is clear that the time for Congress to reform our broke immigration system has arrived," said Tom Nassif, the president & CEO of Western Growers. "Working together with other industries, the faith community, and other reform minded leaders is critical to achieving our shared goals."
"We applaud today's campaign announcement that focuses on the urgent priority in getting broad based immigration reform legislation passed by Congress, said Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association.
Our fresh fruit and vegetable members are facing labor shortages NOW and literally cannot afford to wait any longer. We look forward to working with Congress to carry immigration reform over the finish line as soon as possible."
"Across the country, crops are rotting on the vine because our farmers don't have the workers they need," said John Feinblatt, Chair of the Partnership for a New American Economy. "Our choice is clear. We either bring in our workers or we bring in our food. The American agriculture industry depends on getting this right."
The #IFarmImmigration month is part of the #IAmImmigration campaign to engage industries across the economy who wants to fix our nation's broken immigration system. Immigration affects everyone from scientists to entrepreneurs, from farmers to students.
Over the next several months the campaign will engage each of these groups and more to push for reform.
To learn more about the campaign, visit iamimmigration.org.
Immigrants in Agriculture
· The worker shortage is costing farmers millions of dollars each year: Agricultural employers reported more than $300 million in losses in 2010 because of worker shortages.
· Farmers need a stable, legal workforce in order to continue producing an abundant, safe, and affordable food supply. Immigrant workers make up approximately 80 percent of hired labor on American farms.
· Current immigration laws are putting American jobs at risk: Two million people are hired each year to work on American farms, and each of these workers supports two to three other employees downstream in jobs like sales, marketing, and transportation. Without immigration reform, many of these valuable jobs will leave the country and never return.
· Eliminating immigrant labor would increase food prices for American consumers: A 2012 Texas A&M University study found that farms using immigrant labor supply more than three-fifths of the milk in the country. Without immigrant labor, the number of dairy farms would drop by 4,532, reducing milk production by 29.5 billion pounds and raising retail milk prices by an estimated 61 percent.