Nearly 60 Farm Bureau farmers and leaders from 14 states gathered in Washington Tuesday to advocate passage of a new farm labor program as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
The participants joined 600 other members of conservative faith, law enforcement and business groups from around the nation. Together, the group held more than 150 congressional meetings on immigration reform.
Farm Bureau members spent the day on Capitol Hill talking with their congressional representatives about their need for a reliable workforce, AFBF reports. The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging Congress to pass immigration reform this year.
"Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "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," Stallman said.
Farm Bureau is urging Congress to pass an agriculture labor program with both short and long-term stability. "It's a way to keep our experienced workforce, while making sure we have access to a legal workforce through a streamlined and flexible guest worker program in the future," Stallman concluded.
The rally was part of an event organized by the group Americans for Reform, of which the American Farm Bureau and Western Growers are listed as sponsors.