Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged his support to resolve agriculture’s labor issues in a conference call to the Western Growers’ 86th annual meeting.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, spoke with the trade association’s board of directors Nov. 7. California and Arizona grower-shippers are meeting at The Grand Del Mar in San Diego Nov. 6-9.

“I am committed to having enough workers to get our economy going and businesses in business,” Romney said during the call, according to a news release.

Romney said he plans to give states the power to secure adequate visas for agricultural workers and that the federal government is currently getting in the way.

Western Growers president Tom Nassif asked what Romney would do about government regulations as president. Romney said he would reduce the federal work force and “go after regulations,” according to the release. Regulators, Romney said, also have a responsibility to encourage growth in the industry.

“In agriculture, we are very competitive,” Romney said. “Yours is one of the industries where we’re able to compete with the nations around the world.”

Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers has not endorsed any presidential candidates and typically does not until after the primaries.

Western Growers members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship 90% of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California, and 75% in Arizona.