Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers predicts that AgJOBS farm labor legislation will unlikely make the final cut in the 2007 farm bill legislation under consideration by the U.S. Senate.
“We are very disappointed AgJOBS will not be part of the 2007 Farm Bill,” said Western Growers’ president and chief executive officer Thomas Nassif. “We have made our case for the need for AgJOBS, and we have garnered support from both sides of the aisle, but our champions in the Senate don’t believe the farm bill provides the best opportunity to see AgJOBS passed right now.”
Western Growers’ ally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., planned to offer AgJOBS as a farm bill amendment. Sources in Washington have confirmed, however, that Sen. Feinstein will not offer AgJOBS as an amendment, Western Growers said.
Sen. Feinstein is expected to make a separate AgJOBS pitch from the Senate floor at a later date. AgJOBS is legislation supported by some agricultural groups to help fend off ever shrinking labor supplies in the nation’s agricultural sector.
The current Senate farm bill provision includes specialty crop industry priorities including competitiveness grants, the school snack program, pest and disease programs, trade assistance, and research.
Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose nearly 3,000 members grow, pack, and ship about half of the nation’s produce, including 90 percent of the fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in California and 75 percent of those commodities in Arizona.