In an effort to bypass heated debates over illegal immigration and retain desperately needed farm labor, the Farm Bureau Federation recently unveiled an “ag card” policy proposal which would augment current work visa legislation.
For the past several years, the immigration debate in American politics has become increasingly heated. In 2010, several states passed strict new immigration laws designed to prevent illegal immigration and make it difficult for undocumented workers to find employment. An unintended consequence of these laws, however, was a sharp decline in available farm labor.
In states like Georgia and Alabama, for example, tough immigration laws frightened off countless undocumented farm workers, causing millions of dollars in agricultural lossesas unpicked crops rotted in fields.
The Farm Bureau, wary of stepping into the political minefield that is immigration reform, recently suggest an “ag card” policy to augment current work visa requirements that they hope will avoid much of the supercharged rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate.
The suggested policy would give undocumented workers with agricultural experience currently residing within the United States an ag card that would allow them to legally obtain agricultural work. Workers would have to return to their homes overseas for 30 days over the course of three years. The proposal would cover contracted and seasonal work and would help guarantee that farmers have a reliable source of labor through the growing cycle.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer