The immigration reform bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday retained the farm labor provisions that the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) supports.
“We believe this bill will help ensure an adequate supply of farm labor but also will provide an increased level of surveillance of high-risk areas along our borders,” AFBF president Bob Stallman said in a statement. “We know that one of the best ways to improve border security is to create a legal, workable way for farm workers to enter our country. If we do not have to waste resources locking up lettuce harvesters, we can focus on keeping those with criminal intentions out of our country.”
At last week’s NAFB Washington Watch, AFBF Director for Congressional Relations Kristi Boswell said they are pleased to see progress on the bill. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” she said. “The energy is there, the effort has been bipartisan and I think that makes everyone feel more comfortable that this bill isn’t just going to get passed without fully vetting it.”
Boswell says they are carefully watching to make sure that the ag piece of the bill, which was negotiated between agriculture and farm labor interests, remains in the legislation. “From agriculture’s view specifically, we have a lot of sympathies. People are understanding that we are relying on an undocumented work force and we are having shortages and we also have a broken H2-A visa program,” she said.
Listen to or download interview with Boswell here: AFBF's Kristi Boswell