Point of View Ag industry, consumers both lose now
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole understands the importance of agriculture for the state and the nation. On the House floor, Cole, R-Moore, praised the passage of the 2014 farm bill. He touted America’s ability to outdo every country in the world when it comes to food and fiber production. Cole also praised our ability to do it at a lower cost, leading to more affordable food prices.
Unfortunately, continuing these achievements will be nearly impossible without immigration reform. Current immigration laws result in workforce shortages, which are undermining the agriculture community’s ability to operate at capacity.
The workforce shortages can be attributed to many factors, including the fact that American workers typically aren’t interested in these seasonal, physically demanding jobs. Moreover, a flawed and costly agricultural guest worker program makes it difficult to obtain a legal workforce.
Enacting substantive immigration reform, one that allows guest workers to work for more than one employer, is a reasonable change that will improve the system. This would enable farmers to spend less time recruiting workers to come to the country by giving them access to workers who are already here, legally. It also would create a more enticing opportunity for the workers — making recruitment easier.