WASHINGTON – Nearly 200 farmers from across Pennsylvania met with their Congressional representatives during Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 2006 National Legislative Conference in early March.
Pennsylvania farmers say a top national issue this year is the need to include a guest worker program as part of the immigration reform and border security legislation.
“Our farmers strongly support actions to secure our borders and enforce immigration laws. At the same time, we need a temporary worker program to provide sufficient labor for our fruit and vegetable industries,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Carl Shaffer.
Dependency. Farm Bureau notes that the unique nature of agriculture is a reason it is so dependent on a migrant labor force.
“Many jobs in agriculture are seasonable and include tasks that most American workers are unwilling to perform,” Shaffer said.
Economics. The economic impact to farmers will be staggering if immigration and border security legislation is signed into law without making provisions that include an adequate migrant workforce.
“Farm Bureau projects annual losses between $5 billion to $9 billion of U.S. fruit and vegetable production to foreign competition if a guest worker program is not enacted as part of an immigration bill,” Shaffer said.
“In Pennsylvania, fruit and vegetable farmers would face production losses up to $175 million annually without guest workers to help them tend to and harvest their crops.”
Impacts. Farm Bureau says Pennsylvania will be among the top 10 states in the nation negatively impacted by immigration legislation that excludes a guest worker program.
“America will not be safer if the result of closing our borders is to send our production of fruits and vegetables to other countries. We believe that a safe and abundant supply of fruits and vegetables is as essential to our national interest as developing additional domestic energy supplies,” Shaffer said.
Farmers also discussed the 2007 farm bill, elimination of federal estate taxes and natural gas resources.
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