WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2013—Organizations representing a variety of agricultural employers today announced the formation of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), which developed an alternative framework to current agricultural worker programs.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity now that Democrats and Republicans are having a serious conversation about the critical need for immigration reform—an opportunity that cannot be wasted,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers.
AWC explained that more than 1.5 million hired workers contribute to the agricultural industry every year and each of these workers supports two to three full-time jobs in the food processing, transportation, farm equipment, marketing, retail and other sectors.
“Agricultural employers have come together as never before in lock-step and agreement about a workable proposal that will serve the needs of farmers, workers and the America people,” Nassif added in his statement. “The time for immigration reform is now.”
The coalition revealed a framework that includes “an earned adjustment in status” for current agricultural employees who are illegal as well as an "Agricultural Worker Visa Program" to maintain a farm workforce in the future.
Under the AWC’s framework for current workers, the workers must meet an obligation to work for a certain number of days in agriculture for several years and upon completion of this obligation, will be granted permanent legal status.
Current programs, including H2-A, are unworkable, noted the coalition, and the AWC proposal “is meant to ensure that all types of producers—including both those with seasonal labor needs and ones with year-round labor needs—have access to the workforce they need to remain productive and competitive.”
Association members of AWC:
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Nursery & Landscape Association
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
National Council of Agricultural Employers
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Milk Producers Federation
U.S. Apple Association
United Fresh Produce Association
Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform
For more news, go to www.agri-pulse.com