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Immigration Reform Negotiations Continue in Congress

April 8, 2013

NMPF and the Agriculture Workforce Coalition remain closely engaged in efforts to ensure that legislation being drafted in both the House and Senate reflects the needs of dairy farmers. While no final legislative package has been completed in either the House or Senate, NMPF was pleased with the direction of negotiations on the issues of greatest importance to dairy farmers: protecting the current workforce and securing a future flow for workers to fill the dairy industry’s employment needs. While agreement on a broad framework that addresses these two issues is of the utmost importance, issues such wages, labor standards, and limits on the number of future foreign workers must also be addressed. The Senate may announce the outlines of a deal this week, when Congress returns to Washington after a two-week recess.

Recent developments on a potential deal on the issue of low-skilled, non-agricultural workers have further highlighted the challenges that remain for various aspects of immigration reform, including agriculture. This debate has revolved around the challenge of determining both a wage for foreign workers and deciding whether a cap should be in place on bringing in future workers, and, if so, how is that cap determined. NMPF is committed to ensuring that dairy farmers have access to a workforce that meets their needs, and that the costs of employing such a workforce are manageable for businesses. Other challenges regarding whether current undocumented individuals should be given citizenship or be granted some other form of legal status also must be addressed by members of Congress in any package.