Today Utah local farmers from across the state provided statements regarding the findings of this report, including:
“Immigrants play a big part in the farming community. Without their help I'm not sure how many of us would keep our businesses running,” said Leland Hogan, President of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation. “Like businesses across the country, America’s and Utah’s farms and ranches cannot grow while our immigration system remains broken. Here in Utah we have a diverse agricultural industry, each farm with its own special needs but they all need laborers though. Maintaining a reliable workforce is a high priority this year for Utah farmers and ranchers.”
“Immigration reform is absolutely a high priority for our farm and I’ve been contacting our congressmen about it,” said Jake Harward, a hay and vegetable farmer in Springville, Utah. “With the great variety of jobs we have in our country, most do not want to work on the farm. Because of that, we have to understand that we’re either going to import our workers or our food, and I’m more comfortable eating food that I know was grown here in a safe and responsible way.”
“The findings of this report show exactly what I’ve been experiencing personally at my farm in Davis County,” said Jeremy East, owner of East Farms. “We grow a variety of produce each year including peppers, corn, tomatoes and other produce where I am unable to keep up with consumer demand and meet the full potential of my farm due to labor difficulties. Without immigration reform, farms cannot reach their full potential and produce the amount of food we all enjoy. It is time that Congress pass substantive immigration reform this year to address this issue.”
“As a longtime rancher and farmer from Summit County, I know that the agricultural community is in real need of immigration reform. We would be out of business tomorrow if we didn’t have immigrant herders help us care for our sheep,” said Stephen Osguthorpe, a rancher from Park City, Utah. “I am grateful for them. I’ve been to their homes in Peru and seen firsthand how employment has truly helped their families and communities as they’ve sent their kids to college from the money they earn on our ranch. The legal immigration process has some real deficiencies by taking too long and requiring a lot paperwork in order to get these immigrant workers who have a very special skill set. This needs to change.”
Key Findings of the Report
• In recent years, the share of imported 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.