The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and more than 70 other agriculture groups have joined with the Partnership for a New American Economy to launch an immigration reform campaign, even as the House of Representatives appears uneasy on plan forward.
The #IFarmImmigration campaign will include online and in-person campaigning toward new U.S. immigration policy, kicking off Wednesday with a press briefing in Washington, D.C. During the briefing, the campaign will release new research on labor.
Farmers and ranchers will continuing the efforts by conducting farm tours and participating in the conversation through social and traditional media, videos, and community events for members of Congress in their districts.
According to AFBF, ag employers reported more than $300 million in losses in 2010 because of worker shortages. In addition, immigrant workers make up approximately 80% of hired labor on American farms.
"Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "This campaign will highlight how many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force and without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor intensive crops or go off shore. Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food."
The #IFarmImmigration month is part of the #IAmImmigration campaign to engage a range of American industries in the immigration conversation. Over the next several months the campaign plans to engage Americans to push for reform.
"Across the country, crops are rotting on the vine because our farmers don't have the workers they need," said John Feinblatt, Chair of the Partnership for a New American Economy. "Our choice is clear. We either bring in our workers or we bring in our food. The American agriculture industry depends on getting this right."