Romney talks agriculture with Western Growers - The Packer

Romney talks agriculture with Western Growers

11/08/2011 12:29:00 PM
Mike Hornick

RomneyRepublican 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.

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Wayne Lawson    
Phoenix, AZ  |  November, 09, 2011 at 09:19 AM

This is typical political himhaw. Let's get agricultural workers(People from Mexico) to make sure that we can have a productive workforce. How about we as an industry hire Americans here right now that don't have a job. Last I just heard, there are approximatley 9 million American that are unemployed. Certainly we can find someone to pick some produce for a decent wage. There was another article that was released this last week that estimated 1 in 15 eligible in the United States to work was unemployed. Yet Romney wants to open up our borders and bring people in to work....? Sorry that does not compute or make sense. If we bring documented workers into the US, does that not mean that when they are finished the money leaves the country too? Where does that help our economy? Food for thought and I would love to hear a response to this.

Fresno  |  November, 09, 2011 at 09:53 AM

The jobs Romney and WGA are talking about are open to all comers, so to speak. Ag work is often timely in nature, and requires a skilled workforce that can perform a job, and then move to the next one. Whoever shows up for the often very physical, relatively low paying work will usually get the job. However, as soon as a person realizes how difficult the work can be, how working outdoors isn't the life they envisioned for themselves, he/she tries to improve their lot, and looks for work that pays more, or does not have the physical requirments these farm jobs have. You might want to try some of the work offered yourself, as I have done for many years. Very few people view farm labor as a full time career.

Chavez Chavez    
Salinas Valley  |  November, 09, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Under our current govenment it is difficult for family farms to operate. When Romney says 'work visa", I hope he is NOT talking about the H2-A program. The H2-A program is too costly for growers, and you would need a full-time attorney on staff to manage the program. As for the ignorant people who think the 9 million unemployed Americans would like to work on the farm, send them my way. I am 14 people short to harvest my crop this season. I am a 3rd generation farmer in CA. I agree with Romney in regards to the Feds getting in the way. There is so much red tape for growers to cut through now. Everyday, I find myself spending more time on paperwork, rather than the produce. I promote Produce of the USA! I hope the next leader of this country will too.

Greg G    
Lake Forest  |  November, 09, 2011 at 11:10 AM

We could only hope that these jobs could to be filled with American labor. This generation does not know how to work hard and only wants the high paying jobs that they are protesting against. I never worked in the fields however, I was an ironworker for 20 years, working high steel and placing rebar for which I was very proud of doing. Our fathers and grandfathers never complained about hard work and would do anything to feed their families. It's sad to see that we have to help growers get foreign help when we have so many unemployed here in the US. That is why we need our neighbors from Mexico to fill these numerous jobs that Americans don't feel happy doing because it is hard work!

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