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Labor Study Shows Impacts of Immigration Reform on Ag Economy

Farm Bureau study finds up to 6% food price increase with immigration plan focused solely on enforcement

Published on: Feb 11, 2014

A report commissioned by the American Farm Bureau and a coalition of other groups advocating for labor reform has found that as much as a 6% increase in food prices could be possible if immigration policies rely solely on enforcement.

The report, "Gauging the Farm Sector's Sensitivity to Immigration Reform," was conducted by the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services. It's part of a month-long #ifarmimmigration push by AFBF and the Partnership for a New American Economy.

According to the report, in addition to an up to 6% increase in food prices, an enforcement only immigration reform plan would also cut the nation's food and fiber production by as much as $60 billion.

Study finds up to 6% food price increase with immigration plan focused solely on enforcement
Study finds up to 6% food price increase with immigration plan focused solely on enforcement

The hardest-hit domestic food sectors under an enforcement-only scenario are fruit production, which would plummet by 30% to 61%, and vegetable production, which would decline by 15% to 31%, the study finds.

Related: Ag Groups Put Pressure On Immigration Issue, But House Uneasy

The study also pointed out that while the fruit and vegetable sector would suffer, livestock production in the U.S. would also fall by 13% to 27%.

"Over five years, an enforcement-only approach would lead to losses in farm income large enough to trigger large scale restructuring of the sector, higher food prices, and greater dependence on imported products," says AFBF President Bob Stallman.

AFBF suggests that the best option, as the study shows, is a redesigned guest worker program and the opportunity for skilled laborers currently working in agriculture to earn an adjustment of status.