The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing today titled “Immigrant Farmworkers are Essential to Feeding America.” Shay Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce, and other industry supporters provided testimony in which they voiced varied concerns and challenges facing the produce industry with regards to labor.
“United Fresh continues to work on efforts to drive fair and equitable changes to our immigration system in this country and support those who are caught up in this ever-building crisis,” said United Fresh Produce Association President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “Today’s hearing has demonstrated that there is bipartisan support for addressing the produce industry’s labor challenges to ensure we have a workforce to feed our country and ensure that American consumers have access to our industry’s bounty of fresh produce. There is work still to be done and I can tell you that we hear the voices from our members who are adamant that we need legislation now! With bipartisan legislation passed in the House, the Senate has a prime opportunity to follow their lead and work across the aisle,” concluded Stenzel.
The Senate hearing is the latest in important steps on immigration reform undertaken by United Fresh and industry leaders. In June, United Fresh joined industry colleagues and other agriculture stakeholders in a meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to discuss next steps for Senate action on agriculture immigration reform. Senators Crapo and Bennet have now been joined by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to expand bipartisan efforts on agriculture immigration reform in the Senate. Earlier this week, United Fresh participated in an Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) briefing of Senate Republican staff on the need for agriculture immigration reform. This all follows the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act which passed the House of Representatives in March.
All these efforts will culminate in September when the produce industry comes together at United Fresh’s annual Washington Conference here in Washington, DC. Industry leaders will visit with Members of Congress to press them to move forward on immigration reform for agriculture. To learn more about the conference, use this link. For further information on our efforts and to get involved, contact John Hollay, Senior Director of Government Relations, at United Fresh.