The Senate essentially killed a wide-ranging immigration reform package this week when the bill failed to garner the 60 required votes, leaving many growers wondering how they'll cope with tight labor supplies this season.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, as it is technically known would have beefed up border security, created a visiting worker program and provided illegal immigrants with a pathway to become legal.
The bill fell 46-53, receiving 14 votes short of passing.
President George W. Bush had backed the immigration reform effort from the start, calling it a "careful compromise."
Many industry experts say they believe a new comprehensive immigration reform package won't be presented to Congress until a new president is seated.
Democrats, however, have begun discussing how they can salvage portions of the package, such as strengthening border security.
The U.S. Apple Association in Vienna, Va., the other members of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform will continue to focus on passage of the AgJOBS bill as part of a slimmed down immigration reform package.
AgJOBS would have created a system where illegal workers could work in agriculture for a specific time frame, learn English and pay a fee to obtain legal work status.
With Washington cherry harvest in full swing, growers in that state are beginning to experience labor shortages in a number of key areas, such as apple and pear thinning.