Washington, D.C. (April 22, 2013)—Agriculture is united in support of provisions in the comprehensive immigration legislation introduced in the Senate last week that will help producers access a stable, secure and legal workforce, Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), said today. Conner’s comments came during testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee focused on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744).
Conner noted that NCFC was a founding member of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), which brings together nearly 70 organizations representing the diverse needs of agricultural employers across the country.
“The AWC came together because, increasingly, finding enough workers to pick crops or care for animals has become the number one priority for many of our members,” said Conner. “I dare say that for many producers, this immigration legislation is more important to the survival of their operations than any other bill pending before Congress today.”
“As many of you know,” he continued, “the formation of the AWC represents a significant change from the past. For many years, agriculture has spoken with many voices on the issue of immigration; today as the AWC, we speak with one voice.”
Conner emphasized that the agriculture provisions of S. 744 reflect the landmark agreement reached two weeks ago by the AWC and the United Farm Workers union. In addition, he said, the agreement would not have been possible without the leadership of Senator Dianne Feinstein; Senator Feinstein along with Senators Marco Rubio, Michael Bennet and Orrin Hatch worked closely with AWC and the UFW to develop the agreement.
“The agriculture provisions in this legislation represent our best chance in over a decade, or more, to solve the labor shortage in agriculture,” Conner then testified. “The program outlined in the bill includes two key components that AWC views as vital to meaningful reform—a blue card program for current experienced farm workers and a new agricultural visa program to meet future labor needs.”
For additional information on the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the need for immigration reform in agriculture, please visit www.agworkforcecoalition.org.