Dear Mr. President: Agriculture Needs Legal, Temporary Workers
Ninety ag groups, including nine dairy organizations, sent a letter to President Trump last week calling for a new program to provide legal, documented workers to work in agriculture and related industries.
The groups, which make up the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWG), note that the 17.3 million jobs in agriculture make up 9.3% of the nation’s workforce, and say food manufacturing jobs account for another 14% of all U.S. jobs. “… the loss of the foreign-born workforce in rural communities will have the same economic impact on those communities as factories closing and moving to other countries,” the AWG letter states.
“We support strengthening our border, and we believe to do so, we must also relieve pressure on the border by providing a lawful path for foreign workers to enter the U.S. on a non-immigration basis,” the letter states. “For the long term, agriculture needs a new guest worker program based on free-market principles that meets the needs of our diverse industry and provides U.S. agriculture with reliable access to a legal workforce.”
The letter goes on to state that an enforcement-only approach could result in ag output falling $30 to $60 billion dollars, based on a study conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation in 2014. “Done properly, reform will deter illegal immigration, protect and complement our U.S. workforce, better respond to changing economic and demographic needs, and generate greater productivity and economic activity,” the letter concludes.
Major groups signing the letter include the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. Dairy groups include the National Milk Producers Federation, Agri-Mark, Inc., Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, National All-Jersey, Southeast Dairy Farmers Association, United Dairymen of Arizona and Western United Dairymen.
Read the full letter here.