Letter to John Boehner, Speaker of the House and Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee - Agricultural Labor Reforms to Accompany E-Verify Measures


Dear Speaker Boehner and Chairman Goodlatte:

We represent a substantial amount of our nation's agricultural community. As you know, our nation's farmers and ranchers are the backbone of our economy and are responsible for feeding billions of people, both in our country and around the world. This is a great responsibility and requires the use of both our natural resources and our human resources. Agriculture is a labor intensive industry and even in tough economic times there remains a shortage of domestic labor.

We understand the House Committee on the Judiciary has begun consideration of immigration enforcement legislation. While we agree with the need to stem the flow of illegal immigration and are supportive of measures like E-Verify, implementing mandatory E-Verify without also enacting strong reforms ensuring our farmers have access to a legal, reliable and stable workforce will cause serious problems for our domestic agricultural industry and our nation's economy. The H-2A program is unworkable and as a result supplies only 10% of agricultural workers -- while dairy is not allowed to participate at all -- and the current program simply does not have the capacity to increase by ten-fold. In short, agriculture needs a solution that addresses the unique aspects of its workforce and ensures a legal, reliable workforce in both the short and long term.

Our farmers and ranchers must have access to a legal and reliable workforce in order to provide the world with a safe and abundant supply of food. It is imperative that any effort to implement mandatory E-Verify be coupled with a solution to agriculture's unique labor needs. Failure to couple these reforms together would create an unworkable situation for American agriculture. We stand ready to work with you to ensure enforcement of our immigration laws while also implementing critically needed reforms for agriculture labor.

We appreciate your attention to this request and we stand ready to work with you.