FERGUS FALLS, Minn., April 30, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- More than 92 percent of Communicating for America (CA) members working in agriculture support the recently released bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill, according to a recent survey. Additionally, more than 97% agreed that the current H-2A regulations are overly cumbersome, and put those farmers who play by the rules at a competitive disadvantage. One CA member summed up the current H-2A as "too expensive and difficult to get the H-2A visas with too much paperwork and no guarantees".
"Despite the recent high unemployment figures, all areas of agriculture have seen the need for additional labor and American workers have not been able to fulfill that need," said CA President Patty Strickland. "Comprehensive immigration reform that includes a viable guest worker program for agriculture and ensures producers have a dependable and legal supply of labor is critical to the ability of our members, and all American producers, to continue to provide high quality and quantity of food we have come to expect."
"Something has to be done. American Agriculture is not going to be able to keep production levels where they need to be to feed the people without willing workers," one CA Member responded. "Bottom line: we depend on foreign workers as we cannot find US citizens who want to work in agriculture. Pay is not an issue as we pay well above minimum wage," added another.
Strickland said that a majority of CA Members indicated they could live with the provision requiring all employers to use E-Verify, the internet-based system for verifying employment eligibility, as long as a viable guest worker program was created. "We are going to have to give on something to get what we need in the rest of this agreement," one member stated. "If I have a fair and affordable way to get seasonal labor, then I am willing to use E-Verify."
CA and its subsidiary, the CA Education Programs (CAEP), have proposed to Congressional offices a model for processing and administration of agriculture guest worker programs using non-profit oversight organizations. "Associations such as CA and other non-profit organizations would serve as sponsors of the guest workers," said CAEP Managing Partner Greg Smedsrud. "We believe this model can provide a safe, systematic, and most importantly, accountable process to oversee the new guest worker program."
Communicating for America and Communicating for Agriculture is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with small business, self-employed and agricultural members across America. CA has been working on small business, tax, healthcare and agricultural policy issues on behalf of its members for more than four decades. CAEP sponsors the largest agriculture J-1 training program in the United States, which offers young agricultural professional from around the world to come to the United States and have a cultural and training experience at a CA Members farm or agriculture business. For more information visit www.communicatingforAmerica.org, www.caep.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT: Ben Schierer, Vice President 800-444-4950Source: Communicating for America