“Today’s (June 27) passage of comprehensive immigration reform is a major milestone for New York’s farmers. It addresses critical short and long term needs that will better provide a stable workforce on our farms. Those needs include allowing employees who are already skilled and working in this state to stay here and eventually obtain legal status. It’s gratifying to see the hard work New York Farm Bureau has demonstrated on behalf of our farm families result in real movement on this issue for the first time in years.
Currently, our farms face serious challenges in hiring the amount of workers required to plant and harvest the crops and milk the cows. While they always look locally, farmers often turn to migrant workers who are willing to perform jobs that Americans choose not to take. Also, there is a fear that if workers have fraudulent documentation, the employees could be detained and deported at a moment’s notice. Losing that productivity can place the future of the family farm in jeopardy if the food is literally left to rot in the fields.That too puts our local food supply at risk. Migrant labor is a critical component of our farmers’ ability to supply consumers with the food they want at a reasonable price. New York Farm Bureau has already seen some members scale back production or move to less labor intensive crops because of concerns they have about a lack of labor. By limiting the growth of our family farms, we also limit the growth of our rural economies. Immigration reform will help spur agricultural economic development throughout the state.
We would especially like to congratulate Senator Charles Schumer for his successful fight on our farmers’ behalf. The leadership and understanding he has demonstrated on this issue is to be commended. In addition, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has remained a steadfast supporter of our farmers who have long advocated for immigration reform, and we thank her as well for the great vote she cast today. There is still a long fight ahead in the U.S. House, but we remain hopeful that the importance of this issue for New York’s farmers and farm workers will be the incentive lawmakers need to do what is right,” said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau.