Harvesters Need Immigration Policy

As the nation's wheat crop is being harvested, Congress is taking up one of the biggest pieces of legislation that impacts agriculture's labor force.....immigration. Many agricultural sectors rely on immigrant labor, like custom harvester. In a interview with KNEB/Rural Radio Network, US Custom Harvesters Past President Tracy Zeorian of Zeorian Harvesting of Manley, Nebraska says immigrant labor is an important part of harvesting the nation's crop.

In the Immigration policy before Congress there is provision in there for beekeepers, sheep herders, custom harvesters, that allows foreign labor to have a temporary agricultural visa and it allows these workers to travel from state to state without being certified in each each state because of the nature of the work. The Senate version of the Immigration bill includes that special provision, but the House version does not, which has Zeorian and custom harvesters concerned.

These workers come from South Africa, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland and many other countries. Immigrants account for one third to half of the workforce that works for customer harvesters. If agricultural employers couldn't bring in that labor the impact would be felt.

During the busy harvest, the US Custom Harvesters Association is relying on their membership to contact Congressional representatives, to help them understand how these policies will impact the US Custom Harvesters and how any policy that hinders the harvesting will impact America's ability to feed Americans and consumers around the world.

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