Growers focus on need for immigration reform, ag labor - The Packer

Growers focus on need for immigration reform, ag labor

09/20/2012 11:09:00 AM
Tom Karst

She said every job on the farm provides three to four other jobs in the community and taking that labor away is hurting towns, schools and hospitals.

“We need to have our Congress in Washington develop a common-sense program for sourcing farm employees or will we see a different face of agriculture here in western New York,” Torrey said.

Craig Regelbrugge, vice president for government relations and research for the American Nursery and Landscape Association and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform, said U.S. needs not only immigrants for science and technology sectors but also to help harvest crops.

“Congress’ pro-business Republicans should be doing everything in their power to prevent high value U.S. farms from closing and production leaving the U.S.,” he said.

Regelbrugge said the Obama administration was ramping up employer audits without providing a solution to the immigration crisis.

While farmers of grain commodities are benefiting from high prices and global strong demand, many growers of specialty crops face international competition that make them vulnerable to the ongoing shortage of agricultural labor, Regelbrugge said.

He expressed hope that greater involvement of more players in the supply chain will make a difference in the debate.

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