New Report Shows Labor Challenges Lead To Loss In GDP And Farm Income As U.S. Farmers Lose Market Share Of Imports Major U.S. farmers call for immigration reform to be passed this year

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform today released a new report showing how American families are eating more imported fresh produce today than ever before, in substantial part because U.S. fresh produce growers lack enough labor to expand their production and compete with foreign importers.

"American consumers want fresh U.S grown fruits and vegetables, but our farmers don't have the labor force available to meet that demand," said John Feinblatt, Chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy. "This means more produce is imported, and our economy loses millions of dollars and thousands of jobs every year. We need to pass immigration reform now, so our food remains homegrown and our economy strong."

"On the issue of farm labor, we have a growing amount of evidence that all points in the same direction: Farmers and consumers both need responsible immigration reform," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, a cattle and rice farmer from Texas.

Key Findings

  • In recent years, the share of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed by American families that was imported has grown by 79.3 percent.
  • In America, our production of fresh produce and the demands of consumers are increasingly out-of-sync. While the amount of fresh produce and vegetables consumed by Americans has grown in recent years, production levels have either barely grown or declined.
  • Had U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable growers been able to maintain the domestic market share they held from 1998-2000, their communities would have enjoyed a substantial economic boost, resulting in an estimated $4.9 billion in additional farming income and 89,300 more jobs in 2012 alone. U.S. GDP would have been $12.4 billion higher in 2012.
  • Labor challenges faced by U.S. farmers and the inadequacies of the H-2A visa program are a key reason why American farmers have been unable to maintain their share of the domestic market. Labor alone can explain as much as $3.3 billion in missed GDP growth in 2012. It also accounts for $1.4 billion in farm income that wasn't realized that year.

The data for this report was compiled by Steven Broners, Ph.D., a Senior Economist at Welch Consulting.

The report is being released in conjunction with a panel discussion at the National Press Club at 9 a.m. today featuring major farmers from around the country, including: 

  • Chalmers Carr – President & CEO, Titan Farms, South Carolina
  • Russell W. Boening – Owner Operator, Loma Vista Farms & Boening Bros. Dairy, Texas
  • Carlos Castaneda – Owner Operator, Castaneda & Sons, Inc. & Mission Labor, Inc., California
  • Mary Kraft, Owner, CFO and Human Resource Manager, Badger Creek Farm and Quail Ridge Dairy, Fort Morgan, Colorado
  • Chuck Conner (moderator of the panel) – President & CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

See the full report, "No Longer Home Grown: How Labor Shortages are Increasing America's Reliance on Imported Fresh Produce and Slowing U.S. Economic Growth."

This event and report are part of the #iFarmImmigration campaign that brings more than 70 of the largest agriculture groups together with the Partnership for a New American Economy to tell Washington that we need immigration reform now.

About the Partnership for a New American Economy

The Partnership for a New American Economy brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. The Partnership's members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech and Media to Manufacturing. Partnership members understand that immigration is essential to maintaining the productive, diverse and flexible workforce that America needs to ensure prosperity over the coming generations. Learn more at www.RenewOurEconomy.org.

About the Agriculture Workforce Coalition

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) brings together organizations representing the diverse needs of agricultural employers across the country. AWC serves as the unified voice of agriculture in the effort to ensure that America's farmers, ranchers and growers have access to a stable and secure workforce.

The founding members of the AWC are: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Nursery & Landscape Association, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, National Council of Agricultural Employers, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, USA Farmers, U.S. Apple Association, United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers Association, and Western United Dairymen.
To learn more about AWC, visit our website at www.agworkforcecoalition.org.

About the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform

The Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR) is the broad national coalition representing over 300 national, regional, and state organizations whose members produce fruit and vegetables, dairy, nursery and greenhouse crops, poultry, livestock, and Christmas trees.  In the 113th Congress, ACIR is working hand-in-hand as a coalition partner with the Ag Workforce Coalition to achieve meaningful near-term and lasting workforce solutions for American agriculture. 

SOURCE Partnership for a New American Economy



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