Jul 28, 2022IFPA: Pass immigration reform to ease inflation
International Fresh Produce Association members spearheaded a press conference along with other members of the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus (ANIC) calling for urgent Senate action on immigration reform.
At the July 27 press conference, Lori Taylor of The Produce Moms and Tara Smith Vighetti of Smith Farms highlighted the need for immigration reform that is vital to the fresh produce industry and for consumers facing high food prices.
“Swift action in immigration reform will empower America’s farmers and ranchers to improve labor efficiencies,” Taylor said. “Our agriculture supply chain is tasked with feeding America and feeding the world – a strong supply chain and affordable food prices starts at the farm level. Through immigration reform we can provide relief to deserving families across America that are struggling to buy groceries as we all fight unprecedented inflation in food.”
Tara Smith, a farmer and partner in Smith Farms, with production in Maine and Florida, highlighted the impact on farming operations like hers.
“Currently the H-2A process does not allow farmers to secure workers in time or in the right numbers to align labor with the beginning and ending of production windows with real certainty,” Smith said. “The process to execute H-2A applications is arduous administratively and legally, which makes the program difficult if not impossible to access for small farming companies.
“As a result of each of these shortfalls we see higher prices due to labor shortages and limited supply because farm families give up trying to compete with insecure labor supply,” she said. “Movement on the issue of reform is needed now.”
Congress has the ability to act today to prevent a shortage of farm workers and the resulting shortage of fresh produce in grocery stores already suffering from challenges in the food supply chain. With consumers facing higher prices due to other inflation-related pressures, passage of immigration reform can help fight back inflation.
According to a study by Texas A&M International University there is a direct correlation between our current immigration laws and food prices. The reforms included in the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act have the ability to stem the effects of rising inflation.
IFPA strongly supports the Farm Workforce Modernization Act and will continue to advocate for the Senate to take up action on immigration reform.
“Without immigration reform, we know that American consumers will continue to experience higher prices and fewer options at the grocery store, threatening food security and availability,” IFPA CEO Cathy Burns said at an earlier press conference. “Any threat to the availability of fresh produce undermines the health benefits of fruits and vegetables in combating the chronic diseases that cost our economy billions.”
—International Fresh Produce Association