Photo: Seasonal Laborers
During the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a policy was approved that retains the Farm Bureau’s long-held view that immigration policy should be set by the federal government.
“So far, all of these state programs have been on enforcement only,” said David Winkles, president of the South Carolina Farm Bureau, whose members proposed the policy. “They don’t address the fact that we don’t have an adequate labor supply in agriculture.”
Farmers rely heavily on seasonal laborers, including many illegal immigrants, to harvest labor-intensive crops such as strawberries, onions, peaches and tobacco. The agriculture-lobbying group says Americans refuse to take the difficult, low-paying jobs.
The federal government has a guest-worker program for agriculture workers, but farmers say it’s expensive to use and inflexible.
The policy approved by the nations largest farm lobbying group at their annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation also included the following: If Congress does not overhaul immigration, farmers will assist the federal government in helping states create programs that give growers access to enough legal labor.