The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), representing the global produce and floral supply chain, stood with Congressional and agriculture industry leaders this week to demand Senate action on immigration reform.
IFPA CEO Cathy Burns joined US Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), as well as the National Council of Food Cooperatives, US Apple and others, at a press conference led by the American Business Immigration Coalition Action (ABIC Action) calling for passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
In 2021, the US House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act with bipartisan support. In the Senate, Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mike Bennet (D-CO) have taken the lead on negotiating improvements on the House’s solutions and moving the process forward. Passing new Senate legislation is critical to solving labor shortages facing the agriculture sector and sustaining the US economy as a whole.
The bill provides legal status for the current agricultural workforce, reforms the current federal agriculture guest worker program known as H-2A and ensures access to a skilled, dedicated workforce.
“IFPA members tell us that, given how difficult the current H2A process is, labor shortages are now the norm rather than the exception. A lack of skilled farm labor causes a ripple effect in the supply chain, resulting in fewer options and higher prices for restaurant operators, supermarkets, schools and everyday Americans,” said Burns.
A July 2022 Texas A&M University report found that having more migrant and H-2A workers was related to lower inflation, higher average wages and lower unemployment. The study also found that more denied petitions for naturalizations are associated with larger consumer prices and higher inflation.
“Immigration reform is the single most important action that can be taken to give relief to Americans struggling to fight unprecedented food inflation and provide healthy food choices for their families. The cost of inaction is far too high. No one can afford to wait any longer,” said Burns.
IFPA members from around the country will be in D.C. Sept. 26-28 for the association’s Conference and to meet with congressional leaders to make the case for immigration reform, among other priorities. As part of that event, IFPA will release its first economic impact study, which evaluates fresh produce’s multi-billion-dollar-role role in the United States economy and nationwide employment.