Farmers across the country depend on temporary labor to help grow their crops and their businesses. Immigrants help fill these vital positions, creating an additional 2 to 3 jobs for domestic-born workers in industries such as food packaging, shipping, and farming supplies. For many farms across the country, there are simply not enough native-born workers to work their fields.
In North Carolina, the Growers Association had 6,500 agriculture jobs available in 2011, but out of the 500,000 unemployed North Carolinians, only 7 applied and completed the growing season. Without immigrants to staff these openings, North Carolina may have lost a major industry for the state – a trend that is happening across the country. Over 84,000 acres of production and 22,000 jobs in agriculture have been lost to Mexico, and according to a 2014 Partnership study, labor shortages on farms led to $3.3 billion in missed GDP growth and $1.3 billion in lost farm income in 2012. When America has the workers it needs, farmers can produce the food locally and create a major source of revenue – agricultural exports created 920,000 full-time jobs in 2008, according to a USDA study. The U.S. must act to fix its burdensome immigration system if America’s agriculture industry hopes to remain competitive and continue to be the breadbasket for the world.
Learn more about immigration and agriculture below.