Farmers and ranchers need a reliable, skilled workforce. Farm work is challenging, often seasonal and transitory, and with fewer and fewer Americans growing up on the farm, it’s increasingly difficult to find American workers attracted to these kinds of jobs. Farm labor can’t all be replaced by machines either. There are certain farm jobs, like tending livestock and pruning or picking fresh produce, that require a human touch. Where American workers are unwilling or unavailable, workers from other countries have provided crucial support to American agriculture.
Congress needs to pass responsible immigration reform that addresses agriculture’s current experienced workforce and creates a new flexible guest worker program. Instability in the agricultural workforce places domestic food production at risk--increasing immigration enforcement without also reforming our worker visa program could cost America $70 billion in agricultural production.