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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Immigration: Visas Needed To Keep Food Supply In States

State Farm Bureau chief says Emergency

Ag Relief Act is immigration reform answer

By DAVID THOMPSON dthompson@sungazette.com
Sun Gazette
On the topic of immigration reform, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Carl T. Shaffer said he supports a proposal called the Emergency Agricultural Relief Act.

The act allows temporary visas to be issued to anyone employed in agriculture regardless of whether they are in the country legally or illegally, he said.

The visas would be good for five years. “At the end of five years, the plug would be pulled,” Shaffer said.

Because of the seasonal nature of agriculture, there is a high demand for migrant workers, Shaffer said.

Most Americans are either unwilling to do the work, which can be back-breaking, or are unable to do it because they need year round employment, he said.

The act will provide the agriculture industry with a dependable work force while giving lawmakers an opportunity to come up with comprehensive immigration reform, he said.

Shaffer said if the agriculture industry does not have access to migrant workers, labor intensive products, such as tomatoes, could end up being grown out of the country.

“Those tomatoes are still going to be there, but without immigration reform, those tomatoes are going to be grown offshore,” he said. “If consumers are concerned about (buying) foreign oil, how are they going to feel about a foreign food supply?”

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