The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) joined with the Partnership for a New American Economy to launch “#IfarmImmigration,” an agriculture campaign to support the enactment of immigration reform this year in Congress. The campaign will emphasize the critical need for immigration reform for American agriculture. Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), said, “Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry. This campaign will highlight how many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force and without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor intensive crops or go off shore. Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food.” According to the coalition:
- Worker shortage is costing farmers millions of dollars each year. Agricultural employers reported more than $300 million in losses in 2010 because of worker shortages.
- Farmers need a stable, legal workforce in order to continue producing an abundant, safe and affordable food supply. Immigrant workers make up approximately 80 percent of hired labor on American farms.
- Current immigration laws are putting American jobs at risk. Two million people are hired each year to work on American farms, and each of these workers supports two to three other employees downstream in jobs like sales, marketing, and transportation. Without immigration reform, many of these valuable jobs will leave the country and never return.
- Eliminating immigrant labor would increase food prices for American consumers. A 2012 Texas A&M University study found that farms using immigrant labor supply more than three-fifths of the milk in the country. Without immigrant labor, the number of dairy farms would drop by 4,532, reducing milk production by 29.5 billion pounds and raising retail milk prices by an estimated 61 percent.
Members of the AWC include AFBF, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, U.S. Apple Association, and United Fresh Produce Association.The Partnership for a New American Economy represents more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reform.