While many pundits in Washington have given up on an immigration reform bill passing the House and Senate, farmers and farm advocacy groups are still pressuring Congress to overhaul federal immigration laws.
Immigration has long been connected to agricultural interests in the United States. Farmers, often unable to attract domestic workers, tend to rely on undocumented laborers to pick and harvest crops.
The reliance on migrant workers was exemplified by the major financial losses suffered by farmers in states that have passed anti-immigrant legislation. States like Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia, for example, all passed harsh new immigration laws and all saw an exodus of undocumented workers from their states, leading to major losses in the farm sector.
This relationship has led the farm sector to be one of the most vocal advocates of immigration reform. Groups like the Farm Bureau have been at the forefront of the immigration debate, pushing for simpler work visa requirements and major overhauls of guest worker programs.
Farmers reiterated their support for federal immigration reform when they rallied in Washington, D.C. in support of stalled immigration legislation.
“Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry,” said Farm Bureau 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.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer