Efforts For Immigration Reform
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
The Partnership For A New American Economy recently launched a National Day of Action On Immigration Reform as part of a national effort across 20 states calling on Congress to act on immigration reform this year. Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association, Executive Director, Jon DeVaney who took part spoke of how it is essential that Congress acts now to fix the country’s broken immigration system.
DEVANEY: Predictability does matter a great deal in the immigration system for agriculture. Nationally about 80% of the hired workers on American farms are immigrants. Growers are already finding they can’t always get the workers that they need. For example in 2012 we saw labor shortages on farms that led to about $3.3 billion in missed GDP growth nationally, and a further $1.3 billion in lost farm income.
DeVaney stressed how this illustrates the seriousness of the malfunctions in our current immigration system.
DEVANEY: If growers aren’t sure they’re going to be able to get the harvest labor they need for perennial crops like tree fruit, which is of course apples and cherries being main crops here in our state, they’re going to be cautious about planting trees and making that long-term investment decision.
Such uncertainty slows investment growth and overall growth in our state’s economy.
DEVANEY: Keep in mind, when you have fruit growers that can’t hire the people they need to harvest their crops there’s going to be impact up and down the economic ladder in our state and region.
We’ll have more tomorrow from DeVaney regarding a recent study on the total economic impact in Washington from just such labor shortages within the state’s apple industry.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.