What happens when American farmers don’t have enough workers to harvest crops?
Bernie Thiel, who operates his family’s Sunburst Farms near Lubbock, Texas, says in a new ad urging passage of an immigration bill that he had to destroy 10 acres of squash last year because of a shortage of workers.
“American families are demanding locally grown vegetables and I want to provide that to them,” Thiel says in the ad by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Farm Bureau Federation. “So, please, tell Congress we need immigration reform now.”
Thiel’s story highlights a conundrum in the immigration debate, say the ad sponsors.
“Our farmers are struggling to do their jobs because they don’t have the workers they need. So while Congress does nothing to address agriculture labor shortages, farms fail, food rots, and we import more produce from overseas,” said John Feinblatt, chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy.
Adds Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, “Ultimately, as a nation, we will decide whether we import our labor or import our food. While our nation’s current political climate makes comprehensive reform a challenge, we are determined that ensuring an adequate farm workforce and securing our borders are compatible goals that are worthy of continued pursuit.”
The ad will appear starting Thursday in D.C. taxi cabs, the Reagan National and Dulles International airports in the Washington area and movie theaters in 16 congressional districts. In a nod to the agricultural theme, the ad will also run at state fairs and rodeos in Idaho and Louisiana.