President Bush met with leaders from Western Growers and other businesses on June 1 who are supporting the administration’s comprehensive immigration reform plan.

“The President met with Western Growers’ Washington D.C. representative Julian Heron and a group of business leaders to encourage them to renew and increase their efforts to see that the (U.S.) Senate passes comprehensive immigration reform,” Western Growers said in a statement.

The organization has sought passage of immigration reform and AgJOBS, which would provide a legal, stable work force for agriculture, Western Growers said. The organization fully supports and commends the President’s historic leadership on immigration reform.

Western Growers is an agriculture trade association whose members grow, pack, and ship half of the nation’s fresh produce – including 90 percent of the fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in California and 75 percent of the same products in Arizona.

“The (fresh produce) industry simply cannot survive in the long term without immigration reform,” said Tom Nassif, Western Growers’ president and chief executive officer. “The need for a legal, stable and economic work force is growing. Labor shortages in agriculture are getting worse each year and we will soon reach the point of no return.”

The absence of immigration reform in 2007 would cause the extinction of farm operations within the year and that number would increase in subsequent years, Western Growers said.

The group recently opened a new Washington, D.C. office.