The Oregon Natural Resources Report - Agricultural News from Oregon

Worker shortage urges immigration reform efforts

April 9, 2010

Season Right for Meaningful Immigration Reform
By Ron Gaskill

…Even in these times of higher-than-usual unemployment, most farmers and ranchers still struggle to find all the workers they need for a successful season.  Serious concerns that not enough domestic workers will choose to work in agriculture has become a harsh reality across the countryside. About 15 million people in the United States choose non-farm jobs at wages that are actually lower than what they could earn by working alongside farmers and ranchers. The on-farm jobs and opportunities are there, but many workers choose not to take advantage of them.

The issue is rapidly moving from one centered on a lack of resources, to one with food insecurity at its heart.

Farmers and ranchers are the ones being squeezed; caught between a domestic labor force that doesn’t want agricultural work, government policy that fails to recognize the seriousness of the problem and an administration that consistently makes it harder to hire workers.

U.S. consumers will continue to eat fresh fruits and vegetables regardless of how the labor scenario ultimately plays out. But, whether or not those fruits and vegetables are grown in the U.S. or imported from other countries where labor is more plentiful greatly concerns Farm Bureau. It’s past time for our nation’s policymakers to translate grassroots concern into meaningful action.

As much as we believe in a farmer’s right to farm, Farm Bureau fully respects the right of U.S. workers to choose other lines of work. But, on the flip side, as employers, we must be able to legally employ those who do want to work, even if they’re from other countries. Comprehensive immigration reform is needed, so that America’s farmers and ranchers can continue to produce an abundant supply of safe, healthy food, as well as renewable fuels and fiber for our nation.

A recently released framework for comprehensive immigration reform offered by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offers bright hope for reform. As the old saying goes however, the devil really is in the details. We need more specifics before we can fully assess the value of the plan to U.S. agriculture.

Meaningful labor reform that helps all of agriculture bloom this spring would prepare a seedbed for success, for this season and beyond. Agriculture is a tough, demanding job and farmers and ranchers know in many cases it is a job they cannot complete alone.

Ron Gaskill is director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

  
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Discuss this article

Christian in Austin April 9, 2010

Thank you Mr. Gaskill for stating the facts. It is articles like this that will help open the eyes of the American public.

The fact of the matter is that immigration reform is a WIN-WIN once you sit down and realize what all is happening.

God Bless our leaders like Schumer, Graham, Doggett, and the late Senator Kennedy on their efforts to improve the economy and family values.

We need to act today. Immigration Reform cannot wait. Get involved. Yesterday I made phone calls to these politicians offices telling them that I support them. I encourage all of you to do the same :)

Just for the record, I am a 31/white male from Austin, TX.

James Peabody April 9, 2010

How can I get agricultural work!????!! I have never once seen any help needed advertised anywhere and I live in an agriculturally rich rural area. Maybe if these farmers and ranchers would get the word out in English that they have jobs available and possibly post ads somewhere non-migrant workers look for jobs, they wouldn’t have the problem. To want to hire illegals, when there are plenty of willing people who would work if they knew how to find it, is shameful. No to immigration “reform”, aka amnesty.

Grace April 10, 2010

Good bless all those who are working hard to reform our nations immigration system. I understand what it means even though am a US Citizen- because am an African immigrant who came here under petition from a relative it took a total of ten years for it to go through and it was extremely frustating to have waited all those years, maybe if my home country was Mexico I could ha cross over the boarder to arrive here earlier. America is a home for immigrants especially immigrants who love America from the depth of the hearts and are here to make ends meet. They need all our supports to come out of their shadows and we should not be selfish and self-centered not to help those in need, the need you and me to succeed, they are our neighbors and their children need them. Support Immigration reform and a tough but fair legalization of the undocumented, you may not know what your ancestors went through and someone could have helped the to get here and gave you a better life. God bless the United States of America -Home of Immigrants!

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