Farmers across the Southwest are still reporting major farm labor shortages. The lack of labor, partly due to Congress’ inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform, could seriously cut into farmers’ bottom line in upcoming years.
For the past several years, immigration has been a controversial topic in the Southwest. While federal politicians have long been reluctant to push for immigration reform (the last major federal immigration policy was passed in 1990 and President George W. Bush’s effort to create new guest worker and legalization methods for undocumented immigrants failed back in 2007), state governments have been at the forefront of the immigration debate.
States in the South and Southwest have been leading the charge to crackdown on undocumented immigration (with states like Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia passing controversial immigration restrictions).
The government’s unwillingness to deal with immigration has cost many farmers access to cheap farm labor. Agricultural states in the Southwest has reported serious labor shortages in the face of the recent immigration crackdowns. Farm organizations have been some of the major supporters of a proposed immigration reform bill that would have reorganized guest worker programs in the US.
“Our country was built on people who have come here from foreign countries,” said Carlyle Currier, vice president of Colorado Farm Bureau. “We need to continue that ability for people who are seeking freedom, who are seeking a better life for their families.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer