As American agriculture continues to face a serious and worsening labor crisis, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged the presidents of the nation’s state Farm Bureaus on July 15 to support her efforts to pass the Emergency Agriculture Relief Act.
Feinstein told the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Council of Presidents that she will continue to work to pass the measure, which was stripped from the emergency supplemental spending bill in May.
“I implore you to help us pass this bill to address the immediate, critical need for farm labor. You are the biggest farm organization. You represent every state. There is no way I can push this bill through the Senate without you in full force alongside me,” Feinstein said. She urged the state Farm Bureau presidents to help ensure the bill gains the needed 60 votes on the Senate floor.
“We know that people know what the problem is. The question is whether they are willing to stand tall and help us solve the problem,” Feinstein said.
The Emergency Agriculture Relief Act, sponsored by Feinstein and Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would provide temporary limited immigration status to experienced farm workers who continue to work in American agriculture for the next five years.
The American Farm Bureau Federation strongly supports the Emergency Agriculture Relief Act, and AFBF President Bob Stallman thanked Feinstein for her efforts on behalf of America’s farmers.
“Farmers and ranchers are experiencing a serious tightening in labor. This issue impacts every facet of the agricultural community – dairy producers, fruit and vegetable growers, poultry and hog farmers, row croppers, nurserymen and others. We need stability in our labor situation as we strive to get food on America’s tables and work to solve the immigration problem,” Stallman said.
The bill would not provide green cards, Feinstein said. The temporary emergency agricultural program would be capped at 1.35 million workers. Eligibility would be limited to those who can prove agricultural employment for at least 150 days or 863 hours or who have earned at least $7,000 working in U.S. agriculture during the past 48 months.
Emergency workers would have to work at least 100 days per year in agriculture for the next five years. The legislation has a five-year sunset provision.
Feinstein said the United States is in danger of losing its domestic food source unless immediate action is taken to allow agriculture to legally hire immigrant labor. “We need to be proud of what we do. We need to stand up for what we do and be proud of the products and crops we produce,” Feinstein told the Farm Bureau leaders.