Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California farmers encouraged by Senate immigration outline

With farmers across California reporting chronic problems in hiring enough people to tend and harvest crops, the leader of the state’s largest farm organization welcomed a recent release of a bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Senate.

“We’re encouraged that our elected officials acknowledge the immigration issues that face the nation and in particular farmers and their employees, and that immigration reform will be a priority this year,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said. “Farmers struggle to hire enough domestic employees, so they rely on foreign employees willing to harvest America’s food. Many of the people who tend to the food we eat are not properly documented. Reform of immigration laws should secure our borders and allow immigrants who are contributing to our communities to work in farming.”

Wenger said he is pleased that the plan announced today includes a pledge to secure the border while crafting a workable immigration program for agriculture. He noted that in an online survey conducted by Farm Bureau last year, California farmers and ranchers described continuing problems in finding enough people to take on-farm jobs.

“Nearly two-thirds of the farmers who responded to our survey described significant problems hiring enough employees,” Wenger said. “We learned that not having a workable immigration program for agricultural employees affects farmers throughout the state and across an array of crops, especially fruits and vegetables. California’s future as the nation’s leading source of nutritious fruits and vegetables relies on a steady workforce — and immigration reform is the only solution.”

As a new harvest season begins, Wenger said, it’s important for Congress to work on a solution sooner rather than later. He added that the California Farm Bureau, as part of the newly formed Agriculture Workforce Coalition and as a partner in the American Farm Bureau Federation, is focused on enacting reform this year.

“It’s important that any agricultural immigration program provide the flexibility needed for the large variety of fruits, vegetables, crops and livestock grown by American farmers,” Wenger said. “What we’ve seen today from the bipartisan group of senators reflects movement in the right direction for reform, and Congress must keep moving forward.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

California Farm Bureau Federation

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

  • AnthonyFebruary 01, 2013 - 7:52 am

    Thank you Mr. Wenger and CFBF for providing a well-needed dose of reality to counter the hysteria that so often accompanies the debate. Your experience with the difficulty in hiring citizens even in these recent difficult economic times demonstrates that the ideologues with their scare tactics about taking jobs away from Americans, are either ignorant or lying or both. These immigrants are in fact doing jobs that most Americans simply will not do.

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  • DB SmithFebruary 01, 2013 - 8:16 am

    Anthony, Mr. Wenger and CFBF, could you please tell me what the hourly wage is that the illegal immigrant farm worker is being paid vs. minimum wage and if the the employer provides all the legal coverages for the illegal worker that are required by law? I'm wondering if the American worker finds a more beneficial income through big government assistance programs and entitlements vs. picking grapes.

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  • AnthonyFebruary 02, 2013 - 12:33 pm

    DB Smith several states have passed very strict immigration laws which have chased away the illegal immigrants who work in a variety of food-related businesses In this example in Alabama (certainly no bastion of government "handouts" as some call them), they still had to use legal immigrants for jobs paying $10 per hour. Americans do not want these jobs. We can speculate from now till yesterday on how much this is due to social programs and entitlements. Until there is factual information to support that conclusion, that is all it is, is speculation. The fact is that in states like Alabama where policies advocated by some people as a solution to our immigration woes have been written into law, American citizens still are showing no inclination to take these jobs. I will take fact over speculation every time. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-04/in-alabama-legal-immigrants-wanted-for-dirty-jobs File this story under Unintended Consequences. HB 56, as Alabama’s year-old immigration law is known, was supposed to drive illegal Hispanic immigrants from the state and free up factory jobs for natives. Workers cleared out, but a boom in hiring of Alabamians to chop chicken and clean fish hasn’t materialized the way the law’s backers had hoped. So employers are turning to another immigrant work force: refugees.

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  • DeeFebruary 02, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    Anthony-If legal workers are not taking the jobs, it is because the employers are not paying a wage that will is worth the labour, simple free market reality. Under paying illegal immigrants is stealing from the workers and limiting jobs to legal workers. *******

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  • DB SmithFebruary 02, 2013 - 7:43 pm

    Anthony, Dee has it right. It would be common sense and not speculation to say that if you and your family were supported by big government assistance programs/entitlements and didn't have to get up and go to work vs. picking grapes for a living which one would you do? In addition what do you think is going to happen after the millions of illegals magically become legal? Do you think the new legal will still work for coolie wages with no benefits? The new flood of illegals will then push out the new legals for jobs. On and on and on.......

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