The Trump administration’s immigration rhetoric and proposals potentially pose a crippling blow to the state’s agriculture industry and overall economy, agriculture leaders said Tuesday.
“The economic vitality of rural Idaho stands on the shoulders of foreign-born laborers,” said Bob Naerebout, executive director of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, which estimates those workers make up more than 85 percent of the state’s 8,300 dairy employees.
Naerebout and others at an Idaho Farm Bureau news conference Tuesday touted a new national study that gauges the economic impact of immigrants in each state. In its Idaho breakdown, New American Economy notes that Idaho’s immigrant population — around 103,000 — grew by 15.1 percent between 2010 and 2014, and that Hispanics, the state’s largest immigrant group, represent $1.1 billion in annual income and paid $84.6 million in taxes in 2014.
Marc Schlegel-Preheim, pastor of the Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship, said anti-immigrant rhetoric plays on fears, such as a drain on U.S. resources, that are not borne out by reality.
Idaho’s immigrant workforce “is not an undue burden on our support systems,” Schlegel-Preheim said. “They’re actually a benefit to those.”
Read the full story from Idaho Statesman: “Fearing loss of workforce, Farm Bureau, dairymen promote study of immigrants’ impact”