The agricultural labor shortage continues to be a major issue impacting farmers and consumers across the country. The American Business Immigration Coalition held a press conference discussing immigration. Enrique Sanchez, intermountain state director for the ABIC, says this is a national security issue.
Sanchez; “It is critical that we address this issue urgently to keep grocery store shelves stocked and lower food prices for Americans everywhere. We cannot underestimate the importance of this issue to our national security. As we have heard before, food security is national security. The USDA predicts that this year, our country will import more agricultural goods than we export. This should be a wake-up call for all of us.”
Sanchez says reforming immigration policy took a big step forward in 2021, but proponents couldn’t get it across the finish line. “In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act for the second time with bipartisan support. However, the Senate failed to take up the legislation, and we lost an important opportunity to make much-needed reforms to address the labor shortage crisis. We need the Senate to do its job, negotiate improvements to the House legislation, and get solutions onto the floor that help our nation’s farmers continue to produce and help our nation’s families afford to put food on their tables.”
Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) has long been working on immigration reform in Washington, D.C. He spoke during the ABIC conference and talked about where the discussion goes from here.
Simpson; “The Judiciary Committee is busy with a lot of things. We need to get them focused on immigration. And it’s hard to focus just on ag immigration when what’s going on at the border is going on. And we need to let them know that this is different than what’s going on at the border right now. And, in fact, passing this would probably help solve some of the problems with what’s going on at the border. Republicans are worried about inflation. Studies have been showing that if you get a legal workforce for agriculture. It will help with inflation. It will help with food costs. What agriculture needs is a stable, reliable workforce.”
Simpson and several other presenters all said it’s going to take a grassroots effort to get immigration reform passed in Washington. “But what we need is a concerted effort by agriculture throughout the country. And remember, we had 300 Ag groups that supported it, and not just Ag groups, but Chambers of Commerce, National Bankers Associations, all supported this bill that we had. We need all of them to be calling representatives on the Judiciary Committee, representatives of leadership in the House and in the Senate, to let them know how important this bill is, and what it means to our food supply, and, as we mentioned, to national security.”
For more information on ABIC’s immigration reform efforts, go to abic.us.