Noting that a strong labor force is critical to agriculture and food production, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for a New American Economy, Business Roundtable and other groups declared yesterday a “day of action” as part of an effort to urge Congress and the administration to work together to enact immigration reform.

At a press conference in the nation’s capital, farm leaders and top business association CEOs discussed the critical need for immigration reform to drive job creation and economic growth in the United States, while representatives from state and local employer associations, state Farm Bureaus, local businesses and other industry leaders made a similar case at local events in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and more than 10 other states. The coordinated events cutting across various industries, sectors and communities were planned in order to show how wide and deep the need for immigration reform runs.

“Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force and without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor- intensive crops or food production will go off shore. Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food.”

Failure to act is not an option, Stallman continued.

“As a nation, we can’t afford to continue with an immigration system we’ve long outgrown and is working more and more against our overall national interest. We urge Congress and the administration to work together and with us to achieve real immigration reform that addresses the needs of farmers and the economy, as well as the country’s need for border security,” he said.