Farm Bureau Report Reveals Limited Immigration Reform Would Increase Food Prices by Five to Six percent

Feb 19, 2014, 10:20 ET from North Carolina Farm Bureau

RALEIGH, N.C., Feb. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- North Carolina Farm Bureau today released an Immigration Reform report showing impacts on farmers, consumers and our economy based on various reform alternatives. The report, "Gauging the Farm Sector's Sensitivity to Immigration Reform via Changes in Labor Costs and Availability," was commissioned by Farm Bureau and performed by World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services (WAEES).

"Last year, our Agriculture Workforce Report proved that we need a stable and reliable workforce in order to keep up with demand and to keep farms from closing. That's why we all wanted to find out the impacts that immigration reform can have on consumers, farmers and the economy. The findings were staggering. We found that an "enforcement only" approach would result in food prices increasing by 5 to 6 percent. Additionally, the report shows that if agriculture loses access to all undocumented workers, then the national output would drop by $30 to $60 billion. A drop in output of this magnitude would severely impact North Carolina agriculture while the 5 to 6 percent increase in food prices would hit every wallet and pocketbook in the state," said Larry Wooten, President of North Carolina Farm Bureau.

The report describes the extent of the farm sector's dependence on undocumented workers and the political, economic, and social forces that shaped this growing dependence since the last major reform effort in late 1980s as well as the possible consequences of reform during the 2013-14 Congressional legislative cycle. The report draws on the current debate to identify three generic reform alternatives emphasizing: 1). enforcement only; 2). enforcement plus a pathway to legalization; and 3). enforcement plus a pathway to legalization and a guest worker program for sectors with special labor needs such as agriculture. The extensive survey information available on the sector's hired farm work force and use of undocumented workers were then used to develop commodity-specific estimates of hired labor costs for each of the reform alternatives.

Wooten added, "The bottom line is that we need immigration reform that not only works for farmers, but for consumers as well. We need to get it right for everyone."

Agriculture and agribusiness is the largest industry in North Carolina, accounting for $78 billion of the state's economy and nearly one out of every five jobs. The North Carolina Farm Bureau is the largest agriculture organization in the state, with more than 500,000 members.

The full report can be downloaded at Larry Wooten, President of North Carolina Farm Bureau, will be available for interviews following the release of the report.

SOURCE North Carolina Farm Bureau