American farmers call for US immigration reform
United States, 12th May: US farmers are strongly urging Congress to pass a bill that will provide legal status to those immigrant workers who have worked for a minimum of 150 days in US agriculture.
Another demand of American farmers is to make the US visa process simpler for the temporary farm workers.
Farmers want the government to ease US immigration rules so that immigrants including illegal ones can be hired for various tedious agriculture jobs in the US like harvesting crops since only a limited number of US citizens are ready to do such odd jobs, even during the peak of global
recession nearly two years ago.
The farmers say that since the agriculture work is purely seasonal in nature, physically very tough and demanding and needs to be done in remote regions; hence immigrant workers, including many illegal immigrant workers are employed to do seasonal agriculture jobs including
picking of fruits and vegetables, milking of cows etc.
American farmers are lobbying for an “AgJobs” law that will relax US visa restrictions on hiring foreign workers. Moreover, those immigrant workers who have worked in agriculture jobs in the US for a period of 150 days or more over two years would be permitted to stay and work in the US farms.
The farmers in the US feel that stricter US visa norms together with a crackdown on illegal immigrant temporary workers will make it difficult for them to hire reliable farm hands.
The National Agricultural Survey states that out of total immigrants hired for US farms between the year 2005 and 2007, nearly half were illegal immigrants.
Worker shortages in the agriculture sector result in increased prices and significantly low supply. The fact that there is an acute shortage of labor workforce in the US farms becomes clear in Imperial Valley, California where growers of asparagus don’t have sufficient farm workers to cut and pack the vegetables. This has led to a fall of nearly 50 percent in the area with asparagus plantations from 786 acres( in 2006) to just around 373 acres(in 2008)
For long, farmers in the US had been complaining about significant reductions in the production due to a shortage of labor workforce in the absence of immigrant workers in the US.