By Mike Barnett
“A farmer should never have to destroy a crop due to the lack of an adequate labor force.”
Attribute that statement to American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman. It is a thought echoed throughout Texas and the nation as food spoils in the field because Congress is unwilling to address labor shortages in agriculture.
It’s a grim scenario that is illustrated in the advertisement just released by AFBF and the Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of mayors and business leaders who says their purpose is to support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. The ad features Bernie Thiel, a Texas farmer who has had to destroy crops two years in a row because he has been unable to find the workers he needs to harvest.
It’s a troubling situation that plagues farmers in Texas and across the nation. Ultimately, if left unresolved, it will affect every consumer who enjoys American-grown fresh fruits, vegetables and a variety of other products that demand the hard, backbreaking labor that many Americans are reluctant to perform.
The very real dilemma of border violence and the unfortunate situation facing unaccompanied immigrant children mask this very real problem facing Texas and American farmers. This advertisement sends a very clear message to Congress. Fix the agricultural labor situation or Americans will suffer the consequences.
John Feinblatt, chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy, summed it up nicely:
“Our farmers are struggling to do their jobs because they don’t have the workers they need. So while Congress does nothing to address labor shortages, farms fail, food rots and we import more produce from overseas.”
Need a firsthand example? Ask Bernie Thiel.