Clements: A survey recently released by the California Farm Bureau shows immigration policy still harms agriculture in the same capacity as seen in a similar survey in 2012. The informal survey showed that more than half of responding farmers had experienced employee shortages during the past year. California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger says the worker shortage impacts farm operations.
Wenger: We have seen some people making some changes in their cropping patterns, they go to more mechanized types of crops and trying to deal with farm labor contractors. But, the bottom line is we have a broken immigration system. Farmers and ranchers are having to make decision not based on the markets but based on the availability of labor.
Clements: Wenger says the shortage in farm labor means a more competitive situation for farmers to source workers.
Wenger: You see a lot of farm labor contractors going into other fields and orchards offering increased wages – rob Peter to pay Paul –and get somebody to come over and pick their crop and leave the others. When you don’t have that available supply, it means there’s a big fight over those folks that are there and at the end of the day somebody is going to lose.
Clements: He says the survey gives Congress proof that agriculture needs comprehensive immigration reform.
Wenger: Instead of just talking and saying there’s a problem, having a survey like this that goes out does help folks in Congress see that we have a problem on the farm with labor, and finding available labor and here’s the specifics. So, these kind of surveys give credibility to what the American Farm Bureau or state Farm Bureaus are saying.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.