The political landscape and the possibilities for comprehensive immigration reform are more positive than they have been in many years. Heightened focus on immigration policy now provides the agriculture industry with a rare legislative opportunity to address the unique and pressing challenges of our industry.
United Fresh joined forces with 636 business organizations representing multiple sectors to send a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner to request House Republicans, who are the majority in the House of Representatives, move forward on immigration reform this year.
United Fresh is helping lead the charge to secure a stable and legal agriculture workforce. WE NEED YOU to turn this opportunity into reality! WE NEED YOU to join the effort to make sure Congress knows you need a viable guest worker program and it MUST PASS NOW!
"Having a stable and viable workforce has never been more critical for our nation's fruit and vegetable industry, and we must continue to fervently educate lawmakers about agriculture's crucial labor needs." Tom Stenzel, president & CEO of United Fresh.
More Ways to Help Shape A Better Business Future
Meet With My Members of Congress in Washington, DC
Participate in a "Fly-In" event and meet with your members of Congress and their top staff. Sign up today!
Attend the Washington Public Policy Conference (WPPC)
Connect with fellow produce industry leaders by attending the produce industry's most prominent public policy event and engage in strategic, face-to-face dialogue with key members of Congress, their staff and top regulatory officials. Register Today!
Agriculture Workforce Coalition
United Fresh is proud to be a founding member of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, which represents a broad cross section of agricultural employers. As the unified voice of agriculture, AWC is developing proposals to help ensure that farmers have access to a stable and skilled workforce both now and in the future.
The AWC has put forward two proposals for legislative reform that includes both a program (the Agricultural Worker Program component) to provide access to a legal workforce into the future and an adjustment for current experienced unauthorized agricultural workers (the Current Workforce component).
• Agricultural Worker Program component:
This program would create a capped visa program based on choice and flexibility. “At Will” employees would be issued an 11 month visa without a contractual commitment to any one employer. Contract employees commit to work for an employer for a fixed period of time and would have a visa term of up to 12 months (renewable indefinitely), and conditioned upon a commitment to return to their home country for at least 30 days over a 3-year period.
• Current Workforce component:
The AWC supports an adjustment of status for experienced but unauthorized agricultural workers who currently reside in the U.S. The proposal requires that these workers have a future obligation to work for a number of days annually in agriculture for several years. Upon completion of this future work obligation, the workers could obtain permanent legal status and the right to work in whatever industries they choose, including agriculture.
Founding Association Members of AWC:
|American Farm Bureau Federation
|American Nursery & Landscape Association
|| U.S. Apple Association
|Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
||United Fresh Produce Association
|National Council of Agricultural Employers
||Western Growers Association
|National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
||Western United Dairymen
| National Milk Producers Federation
For more information, please visit the AWC at http://www.agworkforcecoalition.org/
Challenges for the Fresh Produce Industry
A strictly domestic workforce cannot meet the needs of today's produce industry. We must look to guest worker programs to provide essential labor to fill these jobs. Currently, U.S. growers are faced with an ambiguous set of labor laws and regulations. Often this bureaucratic patchwork provides conflicting mandates and places producers in legal jeopardy despite efforts to comply.
Congress must act! In order to ensure U.S. producers have access to a stable workforce, Congress must address agriculture immigration reform. Immigration reform legislation must include provisions to provide a stable and reliable guest worker program and reasonable incentives for workers to come out and enroll without fear of deportation. An agricultural guest worker program that addresses both current and future workforce needs is essential.
With labor shortages becoming a harsh reality across the country, some growers have decided not to plant their crops, while others have explored options for production outside the United States. The U.S produce industry needs a legislative solution now!
The choice is a simple one: Import our labor or import our food.