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Farm Bill Isn't Only Ag Policy Focus This Winter

Farm Bureau turns to immigration reform even as farm bill remains unfinished

Published on: Oct 29, 2013

Agricultural interests and others are set to gather in Washington, D.C., Tuesday as part of an organized rally on immigration policy with the group Americans for Reform.

The event, which lists the American Farm Bureau Federation and Western Growers as sponsors, will kick off with a rally on Capitol Hill and later a series of meetings with House Republican lawmakers to push for priorities on immigration policy, especially as the House again lags behind the Senate in passing an immigration bill. A Senate version was approved in June.

According to a statement from AFBF, a reliable agricultural workforce remains a "crucial part of immigration reform" that the group intends to promote at Tuesday's fly-in. Approximately 50 representatives from 15 states will lobby for agricultural immigration reform, the group said.

Farm Bureau turns to immigration reform even as farm bill remains unfinished
Farm Bureau turns to immigration reform even as farm bill remains unfinished

Participating group expects the count to be about 600 people in all, representing business and faith leaders in addition to agricultural interests.

AFBF Monday released three new videos focusing on different agricultural crops affected by immigration policies ahead of the rally. In one video, a Pennsylvania mushroom farm owner explains that labor is hard to find for his farm, which requires hand-harvesting year-round.

"Throughout the summer we had to harvest crops earlier than normal, which we don't like to do," farmer Ed Leo explains in the video.  "Labor is getting more critical every month. The situation has been getting worse and worse over the last year or so," he said.

Despite offering pay that is double what local fast-food employees earn, plus health benefits, paid vacation time and holidays, few domestic workers are interested in working on the farm, the AFBF video says.

Also included in the series are videos on blueberries and peaches. AFBF notes all three videos are part of a larger campaign called "The Heat Is On," which vows to push Congress to act before the end of the year.

The videos can be viewed on AFBF's immigration page.