Agriculture has always been an important part of the U.S. economy and culture. In recent years, it has been one of the most profitable parts of the economy. More than any other part of the economy, agriculture stands to benefit from immigration reform. It also stands to suffer if reform efforts stall. Listed below are eleven reasons why American farmers are ready for reform.
- America has roughly 1.1 million full-time farm workers. According to the Department of Labor, half of them are undocumented.
- Among new entrants to farm labor, those with less than 2 years experience, 72% of crop workers, 90% of vegetable producers, and 97% of fruit producers are undocumented.
- Even in Border States, 77% of farm owners report labor shortages so severe that they had already scaled back operations. Twenty-seven percent said the problem was so critical that they were considering moving their operation abroad or just going out of business.
- Forty-one percent of full-time dairy workers are undocumented. Our current visa and green card process doesn’t even have a category for this type on non-seasonal farm worker.
- According to the USDA, if U.S. farms no longer had access to undocumented laborers total U.S. agricultural output would drop by $6.5-12 billion.
- Farm Credit East concluded that a severe reduction in immigrant labor would close 1,700 farms.
- REMI, an organization that creates regional economic models, predicted that an increase in H-2A visas similar to what was proposed in the Senate bill would result in an immediate increase in total employment and lead to 51,330 additional jobs by 2017 adding $6 billion to the GDP.
- Immigrant labor increases overall productivity by complementing the skills of domestic workers. As businesses grow, immigrant labor actually increases the number of jobs for native workers with similar skill sets.
- Rural America lost 44,000 people between 2010 and 2012. Immigration is one solution to out-migration that cripples rural communities and lowers home values. In many Sunbelt states, immigration has added $10,000 to the value of every home by increasing demand.
- According to th3e Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, immigration reform would add $2 billion to annual state and local tax revenue.
- The American Farm Bureau Association, the Agricultural Workforce Coalition, United Farm Workers of America, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Milk Producers Federation, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and many others have endorsed immigration reform.
Join American farmers in letting your legislator know that America needs immigration reform now.
* The source of all statistics is “Fixing our Broken Immigration System: The Economic Benefits to agriculture and Rural Communities” published by the White House in July 2013.