|WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a statement released Sept. 14, the American Farm Bureau Federation said it was greatly encouraged by the key elements of a comprehensive initiative to resolve the nation’s immigration challenges. Drafted by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), AFBF said the initiative proposes a comprehensive resolution to immigration issues by including tighter border security, stricter employer enforcement and a vital guest worker program to provide agriculture a stable workforce.
“Farm Bureau has been deeply involved in solving the immigration challenge for years,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Our members want to secure our borders and tighten enforcement on employers who disobey the law. The best way to do this – in fact, the only way to accomplish this - is to enact a comprehensive bill that addresses all aspects of the immigration process, including U.S. agriculture’s need for an adequate legal workforce.”
AFBF called the Hutchison-Pence initiative a “distinguished effort” to hammer out “a workable solution” and one worthy of “thoughtful consideration.”
“While we deal with decreasing the flow of illegal immigrants crossing the border - a goal Farm Bureau supports – we need to ensure that the farm and ranch work of agriculture gets done,” Stallman said. “We cannot support any proposal that would attempt to fix this problem simply by putting up ‘For Sale’ signs on our farms - only to have the produce that would have been grown in the U.S. grown instead overseas and shipped here.”
The AFBF statement said the Hutchison-Pence initiative should be viewed as a start in solving immigration challenges, rather than an end.
“Hutchison-Pence deals with the issue in a comprehensive manner,” Stallman said. “It addresses all the elements of the policy debate…in a framework that deserves thoughtful, serious consideration. It provides a logical starting place for reaching a comprehensive solution that Congress can pass and the president can sign.”
According to the AFBF statement, the organization will work with Rep. Pence and Sen. Hutchison as their initiative leads to the development of legislation “to ensure there is a level playing field among employers in terms of wages and other requirements.”
“We also need to make sure there are adequate worker protections that allow agriculture to maintain a workforce while transitioning into the guest worker program,” Stallman said. “The Hutchison-Pence proposal starts us on the road toward a workable solution and its principles coincide with those adopted by our members.”
This farm news was published in the Sept. 27, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.