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					Immigration Reform:
Implications for Farmers


Craig J. Regelbrugge
Co-chair, Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform
VP, Govt Relations and Research
American Nursery & Landscape Assn.
cregelbrugge@anla.org
ACIR
 Ad-hoc coalition
  comprised of over
  300 organizations that
  represent labor-
  intensive crop and
  livestock producers
 Employer side of the
  AgJOBS coalition
    Some active ACIR participants
   AMERICAN AGRI-WOMEN                        NATIONAL MILK PRODUCERS FEDERATION
   AMERICAN FROZEN FOODS INSTITUTE            NATIONAL POTATO COUNCIL
   AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL                     NEW ENGLAND APPLE COUNCIL
   AMERICAN MUSHROOM INSTITUTE                NISEI FARMERS LEAGUE
   AMERICAN NURSERY & LANDSCAPE ASSN          NORTH AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SUPPLY
   AMERICAN SHEEP INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION         ASSOCIATION
   DAIRY FARMERS OF AMERICA                   NORTHWEST HORTICULTURAL COUNCIL
   FARM CREDIT EAST                           PRODUCE MARKETING ASSOCIATION
   NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE              SOCIETY OF AMERICAN FLORISTS
    DEPARTMENTS OF AGRICULTURE                 TURFGRASS PRODUCERS INTERNATIONAL
   NATIONAL CATTLEMEN‟S BEEF ASSOCIATION      UNITED EGG PRODUCERS
   NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE ASSOCIATION        UNITED FRESH PRODUCE ASSOCIATION
   NATIONAL COUNCIL OF AGRICULTURAL           U.S. APPLE ASSOCIATION
    EMPLOYERS                                  WESTERN GROWERS
   NATIONAL COUNCIL OF FARMER COOPS           WESTERN RANGE ASSOCIATION
   NATIONAL FARMERS UNION                     WINEAMERICA
   NATIONAL GREENHOUSE MANUFACTURERS          WINE INSTITUTE
    ASSOCIATION
Immigration: The Perfect Storm
Down on the Farm…
   Most workers lack proper legal status
    ◦   50 to 75% are unauthorized
    ◦   2 to 4% come via only legal program, H-2A
    ◦   Recession isn‟t changing the fundamentals
    ◦   “Culture of Agriculture”
   Immigration enforcement continues
    ◦ ICE I-9 audits happening at record pace
    ◦ State, local laws: “Death by 50 (or more) cuts”
Beware the
Ides of
March…
New H-2A Regulations
 A program that is headed for failure
 Current users face wage and liability
  increases, more recruitment costs, more
  bureaucratic processes and greater DOL,
  SWA discretion
 Some are abandoning program
 Litigation: tried, failed
Best Way Out?
 An Act of Congress….literally
 Strategic Question:


        ¿Can we “harness the destructive
     energy of the perfect storm” to good
    effect for the future of U.S. agriculture
                and horticulture?
AgJOBS (S.1038, H.R.2414)
 Negotiated compromise reflecting years
  of careful negotiations
 Extensive H-2A program reform, and
  earned legal status for experienced
  farmworkers
 Broad bipartisan support
 Best hope for ag employers going forward
Legislative Scenarios
   „Comprehensive‟ happens this year…
    ◦ A bridge too far
 A „down payment‟ bill moves this year…
 Nothing happens this year…
Comprehensive…
 If comprehensive bill comes together, it
  will feature reforms of AgJOBS
 Time and momentum running out
 Slim shot at a bill moving in a “lame duck”
  session
Narrower “Down Payment” Bill
 AgJOBS could be at heart of a smaller bill
  that seeks step forward
 Legislative action could happen later in
  June, July, or possibly lame duck session
 Agriculture has essentially made its case,
  and AgJOBS has prospect of bipartisan
  support
Nothing Happens
 If nothing happens this year, be prepared
  to live with the Obama
  Administration’s H-2A rule for the
  foreseeable future
 2011 and 2012 look bleak. Don‟t bet the
  farm on an “AgJOBS renegotiation”
  bearing fruit
 Next shot at reform may not materialize
  until 2013 or 2015
AgJOBS and Farm Wages
 AgJOBS as written would mean real and
  lasting wage relief for H-2A user growers
 An alternative wage formula for AgJOBS
  has been discussed, and can be achieved if
  ag interests were to unify and bring new
  political support to the bill
    If AgJOBS Had Passed in 2007
    YEAR            NC AEWR*        AGJOBS*         SAVINGS/HR

   2010               9.34             7.53            1.81
   2011               9.69             8.78            0.91
   2012               10.06            9.01            1.05
   2013               10.44            9.24            1.20
   2014               10.84            9.48            1.36
   2015               11.25            9.73            1.52

* AEWR based on long-term average annual increase of 3.8%. AgJOBS
   wage based on long-term average annual increase in CPI of 2.6%
Another Alternative
   Disaggregate USDA-NASS Farm Labor
    Survey results by state, type of work
    ◦ Crop worker; livestock worker; equipment
      operator; first-line supervisor; grader and
      sorter
   Estimated current wage under this system
    would be roughly $8.50
Why the “Minimum Wage +” Dog
Won‟t Hunt
The Sad Truth
   We cannot trust either political party
    ◦ Democrats may opt to hold agriculture
      hostage rather than push to solve the
      problem now
    ◦ Republicans will promise us a better deal…if
      we just wait. Yet even if November‟s elections
      bring a political tsunami, the reality remains:
      President Obama would veto an H-2A bill
      that is staunchly opposed by organized labor
What This All Means for Farmers…
 Those using H-2A either unify behind
  AgJOBS, or face at least several more years
  of the worsening status quo
 Those not using H-2A are one I-9 audit away
  from chaos
 Failure to achieve reform is leading to:
    ◦   Decisions to scale back, switch crops, sell out
    ◦   Next generation leaves farming
    ◦   More imports
    ◦   Lost US jobs in upstream/downstream economy
        (3:1)

				
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posted:9/22/2011
language:English
pages:21