“Field 2 Fork” Event Showcases Impact of Immigrant Labor on South Carolina’s Agricultural Supply Chain


Supply-chain aided at each step by immigrant labor


GREENVILLE, SC — Today the Partnership for a New American Economy and the South Carolina Farm Bureau hosted a “Field 2 Fork” event demonstrating how agricultural products grown in South Carolina travel from farm to table, and how immigrant labor contributes to each step along the supply chain. The event featured a coalition of farmers and hospitality industry leaders calling for immediate action on immigration reform.

The event was held at Soby’s New South Cuisine in downtown Greenville. Participants included Chalmers Carr, one of the state’s agriculture leaders, and Greenville restaurateur Carl Sobocinski, who spoke in front of a display of SC-grown products while Chef Rodney Friedank whipped up a meal made entirely from produce from the Palmetto State.

“We can’t take for granted the everyday contributions that immigrants provide to our economy. From farm to fork, our immigrant community is an essential part of a labor chain that makes your dining experience possible,” said Carl Sobocinski, owner of Table 301, a restaurant group that includes Soby’s New South Cuisine, Soby’s on the Side, The Lazy Goat, Table 301 Catering, NOSE DIVE gastropub, Passerelle Bistro and Papi’s Tacos and Board Member of the National Restaurant Association and Executive Committee Member of the SC Restaurant and Lodging Association.

“This venue was a great way of connecting the dots for South Carolina’s consumers to show how vital immigrant labor is to each step in the process from the farm to their plate. As Carl pointed out, nearly 50% of food is now consumed outside of the home, much of it in restaurants like his, and consumers and Congress needs to understand why we need immigration reform to keep that supply chain working here in South Carolina and nationally,” said Chalmers Carr, Owner-Operator of Titan Farms in Ridge Springs, SC, the state’s largest peach, pepper, and broccoli grower and one of the largest agricultural operations in the Southeast and President of USA FARMERS and the National Peach Council as well as the Labor Committee Chairman of the SC Farm Bureau.

Agriculture contributes more than $100 billion each year to the US economy, while 80 percent of hired workers on American farms are immigrants. Eliminating immigrant labor would increase food prices for American consumers.

H-2A visas were also a topic of discussion. Our current program is costly, bureaucratic, and highly complicated. Famers are often forced to hire lawyers in order to protect themselves from penalties imposed by small technical errors. Furthermore, administrative delays in the H- 2A program cost farmers millions in lost revenue. According to a national survey by the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE), H-2A workers arrived on the job an average of 22 days late thanks to bureaucratic hold-ups. That translated to nearly $320 million in lost revenue in 2010.

About the Partnership for a New American Economy

The Partnership for a New American Economy brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. The Partnership’s members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech and Media to Manufacturing. Partnership members understand that immigration is essential to maintaining the productive, diverse and flexible workforce that America needs to ensure prosperity over the coming generations.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…