Washington, DC—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today announced its strong support for legislation that will help to effectively meet the labor needs of production agriculture. The bill, titled the Agricultural Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act of 2009 (AgJOBS) was introduced today in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and in the House by Congressmen Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Adam Putnam (R-Fla.).
“I would like to commend Senator Feinstein, Representative Berman and Representative Putnam for their leadership in introducing AgJOBS today,” said Charles F. Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “Farmer cooperatives and their producer members must have access to an adequate labor force to ensure their continued competitiveness. Despite this time of economic hardship, there are few U.S. citizens who are willing to work in labor-intensive agriculture. It is clear that foreign workers are needed to harvest these crops. The only question is whether they will harvest them on U.S. farms, or force those operations offshore, to the detriment of our trade balance, economy, and food security.”
As part of the broad Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, NCFC has long been an advocate of AgJOBS legislation designed to provide a dependable workforce for America’s farms and ranches.
“Without action the consequences for agriculture include an estimated $9 billion in annual agricultural production lost to foreign competition,” said Conner. “AgJOBS would enact a reliable verification system, adequate transition provisions, and a usable guest worker program that accommodates modern agriculture, including year-round livestock and dairy operations as well as farms with seasonal labor needs.”
NCFC is a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. There are nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives across the U.S. whose members include a majority of our nation’s more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers. These farmer cooperative businesses handle, process and market agricultural commodities and related products, furnish farm supplies, and provide credit and related financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to their members on a patronage basis. Farmer cooperatives also provide jobs for nearly 300,000 Americans, many in rural areas, with a combined payroll of over $8 billion.
Additional information about NCFC can be found at www.ncfc.org.