The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) stood with Congressional and agriculture industry leaders to demand Senate action on immigration reform.
IFPA CEO Cathy Burns joined U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), as well as the National Council of Food Cooperatives, U.S. Apple, and others, at a press conference held last week, led by the American Business Immigration Coalition Action (ABIC Action) calling for passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
Passing new Senate legislation is critical to solving labor shortages facing the agriculture sector and sustaining the U.S. economy as a whole. In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act with bipartisan support. In the Senate, Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mike Bennet (D-CO) have taken the lead in negotiating improvements on the House’s solutions and moving the process forward.
The bill provides legal status for the current agricultural workforce, reforms the current federal agriculture guest worker program known as H-2A, and ensures access to a skilled, dedicated workforce.
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“IFPA members tell us that, given how difficult the current H2A process is, labor shortages are now the norm rather than the exception. A lack of skilled farm labor causes a ripple effect in the supply chain, resulting in fewer options and higher prices for restaurant operators, supermarkets, schools, and everyday Americans,” said Burns.
A July 2022 Texas A&M University report found that having more migrant and H-2A workers were related to lower inflation, higher average wages, and lower unemployment. The study also found that more denied petitions for naturalizations are associated with larger consumer prices and higher inflation.
“Immigration reform is the single most important action that can be taken to give relief to Americans struggling to fight unprecedented food inflation and provide healthy food choices for their families. The cost of inaction is far too high. No one can afford to wait any longer,” said Burns.
IFPA members from around the country will be in D.C. Sept. 26-28 for the association’s Washington Conference and to meet with congressional leaders to make the case for immigration reform, among other priorities. As part of that event, IFPA will release its first economic impact study, evaluating fresh produce’s multi-billion-dollar role in the United States economy and nationwide employment.