Laying groundwork for immigration reform

02/08/2013 09:44:00 AM
Ray Gilmer

This new program proposes that USDA be the administrator, whereas the current guest worker program is administered by the Department of Labor.

The coalition proposes adding this visa program while leaving the current H-2A program intact, thereby allowing employers to continue using H-2A at their option.

Several lawmakers seem receptive to the idea of a worker visa program administered by USDA. The idea also gets support from many farm employers, who believe a USDA-run program could be more responsive to their unique workforce needs.

For the past several weeks, United has been on the Hill getting time with many of the new faces in the 113th Congress, as well as lawmakers from key states and districts who can play pivotal roles on our priority issues.

Especially on the farm labor issue, members of Congress appreciate the chance to learn more and better understand the challenges and costs facing produce industry employers.

In the weeks ahead, if you are asked to make a call, write a note or come to Washington for a meeting with your members of Congress, I hope you’ll take the time to make your voice heard about the need for a stable and viable workforce for our industry.

There’s a real sense that meaningful immigration reform could happen this year and, when it comes to representing our industry, there’s no more powerful voice than yours.

Read more about the Agriculture Workforce Coalition’s proposals and the full roster of supporting organizations at www.agworkforcecoalition.org.

Ray Gilmer is vice president of issues management and communication for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.

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