Immigration reform progress promising for Michigan agriculture

From: Farmers Advance

LANSING, MI — The May 21 passage of immigration reform legislation by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is a positive step forward in the eyes of Michigan’s agriculture industry. With countless segments of the state’s food and farm sector heavily reliant on immigrant workers, the forward progress of reform at the federal level promises better days ahead for not only farmers, but handlers, processors, wholesalers and retailers alike.

“This is a fair, balanced, workable reform plan that’s comprehensive and which meets the needs of agriculture,” said Ryan Findlay, national legislative counsel for Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB). “This bill will benefit every agricultural sector in a uniform fashion, and help farmers in states like Michigan to secure an adequate, qualified workforce.”

Officially titled the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, the bill is of particular importance to Michigan, home of the second-most diverse agriculture sector in the nation.

Cultivating, harvesting, packaging and processing the state’s staggering variety of fruit and vegetable crops, in particular, requires a highly skilled workforce at targeted times of the year–a complex equation for which immigrant labor is uniquely suited. Beyond that, dairy and livestock farms have found reliable workers increasingly in short supply, and Michigan’s prodigious floriculture sector has long sought improved surety that its workers are eligible for employment here.

“MFB supports this bill because it means peace of mind for farmers,” Findlay said.

“This would enable them to plan ahead and not wake up in the middle of the night wondering if they’ll have enough workers to pick their crop.”

The bill is expected to be taken up on the full Senate floor in early June before proceeding to the House of Representatives.

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