Congress has made some bad decisions in the name of political ideology in the past, but this is one the rest of us simply can’t live with. We cannot afford the loss of security, loss of jobs, loss of safety and loss of control over our own destiny that would come along with outsourcing our food supply. There are solutions — workable solutions that will guarantee our farms a stable, experienced, legal workforce.
American farmers, deeply attached to their communities, would like nothing more than to hire American workers. In fact, they have gone out of their way to recruit local workers in their communities … with poor results. We’ve found that most Americans just don’t want to do this kind of work. While the average farm wages are several dollars an hour higher than the federal minimum wage, Americans are not attracted to or prepared for the seasonal, physically demanding and even migratory nature of the farm worker’s lifestyle. When the South Carolina farm bureau launched a massive statewide recruitment campaign replete with radio ads and a 1-800 number for 60,000 farm jobs, only two people answered the call.
Without a stable and reliable farm workforce, we will have to close our farms. That shouldn’t be an option in a nation that grows its own food. America should not outsource its food security to China. But, that’s exactly what will happen if Chairman Smith’s bill advances without a workable solution that ensures a legal, stable labor force for America’s farms.
Craig J. Regelbrugge is president of Save America’s Food and Economy (SAFE), an organization dedicated to supporting America’s need for a stable and legal farm workforce, greater food security, independence over our food supply, and keeping jobs and economic activity right here in the United States.