The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform has released a new report titled No Longer Home Grown – How Labor Shortages are Increasing America’s Reliance on Imported Fresh Produce and Slowing U.S. Economic Growth. The report is part of the #iFarmImmigration campaign of more than 70 agriculture groups – including the American Farm Bureau Federation – partnering to express the importance of immigration reform to lawmakers. Partnership for a New American Economy Chair John Feinblatt says American consumers want fresh U.S. grown fruits and vegetables – but U.S. farmers don’t have the labor force available to meet that demand – which means more produce is imported – resulting in the U.S. economy losing millions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year. AFBF President Bob Stallman says more evidence points in the same direction – farmers and consumers both need responsible immigration reform.
The report shows the share of fresh fruits and vegetables imported and consumed by American families has grown by 79.3-percent in recent years. It also shows America’s production of fresh produce and consumer demands are out of sync because fresh produce consumption has grown – but production levels have barely grown or declined. Another finding from the report is that U.S. GDP would have been 12.4-billion dollars higher in 2012 if U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable growers had been able to maintain the domestic market share they held from 1998 to 2000. The report also notes 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 that domestic market share. Labor alone accounts for as much as 3.3-billion dollars in missed GDP growth in 2012 and for 1.4-billion dollars in farm income not realized in 2012.
Source: NAFB News Service