AGree voices support for immigration reform in letter to Senators

By Spencer Chase

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 3, 2013 - As the Senate immigration reform bill gets closer to floor action, another group is speaking in support of the legislation.

The latest backing comes from AGree (http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/), which describes itself as “collaborative initiative that seeks to drive positive change in the food and agriculture system.” In a letter of support for the immigration reform bill sent to senators June 3, AGree's four co-chairs point out the possibilities tied to a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Lets Talk Food

“This presents a huge opportunity for foreign-born agricultural workers who want to build a better future for themselves and their families and for American farmers and ranchers struggling with serious labor shortages,” The letter reads.

AGree is co-chaired by four people from different viewpoints and experiences in agriculture. Two of those co-chairs, Dan Glickman and Jim Moseley, have worked extensively with USDA. Another, Gary Hirshberg, is the chairman of Stonyfield Farm, Inc., and the final co-chair, Emmy Simmons, has extensive experience with USAID.

The letter commends the Senate Judiciary Committee for moving the bill to this point and urges minimal modification once floor action begins. AGree points to several of its own principles that are echoed in the legislation as reasons for their support including:

 

    Build a legal, more stable workforce in agriculture;

    Develop a practical and economically viable guest worker program that allows employers to hire legal foreign workers and protects foreign and U.S. farm workers;

    Ensure quality of life, good working conditions, and opportunities for food and agriculture workers; and

    Provide more opportunities for farm workers to develop skills and advance their careers within the food and agriculture sector.

While similar values and priorities are important to the co-chairs of AGree, they also state in their letter the importance of immigration reform for American agriculture.

“A stable, legal workforce is critical to the capacities of American farmers and ranchers to produce nutritious and affordable foods, especially those perishable, labor-intensive fruits, vegetables, meat and milk products that are so important for healthy diets,” the letter signed by all four co-chairs said.

With farm bill debate expected to take up much of the senate floor action this week (http://www.agri-pulse.com/Washington-week-ahead-farm-bill-debate-resumes-06032013.asp), there is little certainty when the immigration reform bill will hit the floor. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning to bring the legislation to the floor sometime in June.

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