After spending years pushing for immigration reform, the agriculture sector has mixed reviews on changes to the immigration system that President Obama announced Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says upwards of half a million farm workers facing deportation could be given respite under the president’s plan. Some farm labor groups herald that as a step in the right direction, but others say it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
“That’s only a Band-Aid," says Kristi Boswell of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We need a much more permanent work authorization for our current workforce and we also have to have a new flexible guest worker program to fill the shortages we already face.”
That will take a Congressional fix. Boswell says fruit and vegetable growers and dairy operations face the biggest holes in their labor force, and many depend on immigrants.