Struggling to Pay Rising Prices of Produce? This Group Says Immigration Reform Will Help

Have you noticed higher-than-normal produce prices at the grocery store lately? Inflation is to blame, but so is a shortage of farm labor, says a national coalition of farm worker advocates, farmers and consumers.

The organization, Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus, contends immigration reform could help bring those produce prices down.

“The labor shortage that I’m talking about in the agriculture sector is creating drops in productivity and spiking food prices,” said Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative, a nonprofit that supports Latinos and an Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus member. “Record-high food prices and workforce shortages prove the need for a stronger and more reliable workforce that can deliver certainty and stability for American businesses.”

Garza spoke in a webinar Wednesday, July 27, over Zoom with a number of other individuals, including Joel Anderson, executive director of the Snake River Farmers Association. The Idaho-based organization helps farmers navigate the immigrant farm labor program called H-2A.

“The pandemic highlighted America’s need for an updated agricultural immigration system,” Anderson said. “We need to ensure that America has food independence to protect against spiraling consumer prices.” Get unlimited digital access Subscribe now for just $2 for 2 months. CLAIM OFFER

Another speaker was Lori Taylor, founder and CEO of the Produce Moms of Indiana, whose website features recipes with fresh fruits and vegetables. She said she learned as a produce seller how important farm workers are to the fruit and vegetable supply chain.

“It is absolutely critical that we empower the beginning of the supply chain, the farmers, to improve their efficiencies, because their efficiencies result in the affordability of goods all the way downstream to households like yours and mine,” Taylor said.

She said conditions like a frost or a shortage of enough workers to pick crops will result in an increase in prices. With so few American workers who sign up for the labor of working in agriculture, farmers rely on immigrants.

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