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S.C. agriculture needs immigration reform

One of agriculture’s biggest and most demanding concerns is reforming our broken immigration system; an issue that, unfortunately, may not be resolved until after the next presidential election. The 2016 election may seem a long way off, but the race is already heating up with a large pool of candidates.

South Carolina residents have a unique opportunity to share our concerns with the future president as candidates begin their treks into the Palmetto State.

Agribusiness is the largest industry in the state, adding $42 billion to the economy annually, yet the broken immigration system delivers stifling blows to our state’s economy. This issue is one that presidential hopefuls cannot ignore.

The current agriculture guest worker program is extremely bureaucratic, un-timely, and expensive. On average, administrative delays cause workers to arrive 22 days past the date of need, and only 5 percent of government-referred workers complete the contract period. These burdens cost farms $320 million nationally. The amount of red tape and administrative hurdles discourage producers from using the guest worker program, and the nation’s food supply suffers as a result.

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New American Economy brings together more than 500 mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. More…

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