Want to lower grocery prices? Urge Senate to Pass Farm Labor Modernization Act, Panelists Say – Baptist News Global
Those who think immigrants steal US Jobs are not only bogus, but are jeopardizing the US economy with their unsubstantiated views, a panel of farm leaders said July 27.
“Each year we see the end of generational farms as it becomes more difficult for our members and growers across the country to find a reliable national workforce,” said Snake River Executive Director Joel Anderson. Farmer’s Association, based in Idaho.
He was one of the panelists in a webinar hosted by the Alliance for a New Consensus on Immigration to support the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was approved by the US House of Representatives. United States but remains pending in the Senate. The bill would revive a flagging U.S. economy, improve border protections and bolster national security, the panel of business owners, farmers and consumer advocates said.
Despite fears of losing the American jobs to immigrants, the reality is that most Americans don’t want to work on the country’s farms and ranches, industry experts have reported.
“We’ve had a glimpse of what food shortages look like, and I’m not talking about a race for toilet paper,” Anderson said. “We’ve seen bare shelves in our grocery stores that most of us thought we’d never see in our lifetimes here in America. These are real issues. These are real threats. And we see in real time the importance of acting now to ensure food security and agricultural independence in our country. Our ability to feed our people ourselves is key to American national security. »
One of the biggest obstacles to adequate labor levels, panelists agreed, is the difficulty of obtaining H-2A visas for temporary farm workers, leaving many agricultural and ranching operations unable to harvest crops on time, if at all.
“We have never seen a homegrown worker complete a season.”
To claim the theft of temporary visas Opportunity-to-work Americans ignore reality, said Tara Smith, partner at Smith Farms of Maine and Florida. “H-2A requires that we post jobs locally, but we’ve never had a local worker complete a season. We provide housing, transportation, pay cooks, and offer almost double the federal minimum wage, but it there are no local workers interested in any of our production centers on the East Coast.
Across the country in Idaho, members of the Snake River Farmer’s Association have sought permission to hire a total of 5,800 foreign workers for the 2022 season, as only 26 Americans applied for the jobs until present, Anderson said.
“In the spring of 2020, the National Council of Agricultural Employers conducted a similar survey of its members,” Anderson said. “Of the 98,000 positions that these employers had to fill, these employers received only 337 national candidates.”
Yet the red tape and delays involved in applying for temporary visas for seasonal foreign workers often prevents employers from hiring enough workers in time for planting and harvesting, Smith added. That’s why members of the alliance are urging the US Senate to pass the Farmworkers Act.
“These scenarios are preventable by allowing producers to act more quickly,” she said.
The panel also countered claims by opponents that allowing seasonal migrant workers into the United States weakens border security.
In fact, the opposite is true, said Doug Baker, former special assistant for homeland security in the George W. Bush administration, former senior director of border and transportation security policy, and head of the National Security and Immigration Council.
“One of the things (Congress) can do to significantly improve our safety is to create work programs for farm workers,” Baker said.
It would also help mitigate safeguards at southern border crossings, he added. “I remember long conversations with Border Patrol agents who said the ability for farm workers to become legal reduced the amount of traffic they would see passing between ports of entry. It was a key takeaway back then and it still resonates today.
Passing the Farm Labor Modernization Act would also help restore the nation’s food security, said Lori Taylor, founder and CEO of The Produce Moms of Indiana, a consumer advocacy organization.
“We know that comprehensive immigration reform will help bring down the cost of goods in our country.”
The anemic seasonal workforce contributes to rising food prices, which in turn drives up inflation and hunger, she said. “Two of the most resilient communities are our farmers and our moms, but we are at the point where no one can continue to fight these grocery prices. We know that comprehensive immigration reform will help bring down the cost goods in our country.
Federal lawmakers must act ahead of the midterm elections to address these serious issues, said moderator Daniel Garza, chair of the LIBRE Initiative and member of the Alliance for a New Consensus on Immigration.
“Poll after poll, a super majority of American voters have expressed support for Congress to deliver immigration solutions that create a reliable and certain workforce for our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” said Garza. “Congress now has that rare opportunity for bipartisan action by passing legislation that helps farmers.”
According to a recent report by National Public Radio, the bill has bipartisan support, though Republicans are split on whether there is a provision in the bill that would allow workers to sue employers. The main opponent of the bill is the American Farm Bureau Federation, a very influential lobby group in Washington, D.C.
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