Alternative Community Farmer/WPB.FL

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Making it mandatory to teach organic farming at school will set the stage for producing our own LEGAL American farm workers

I was reading an article by the POST of today May 25th about how "Florida growers warn of danger to food supply " in case there is a crackdown on undocumented workers.I refer you to the whole article to check it out and form your own opinion!I already formed mine!

John Lantigua of the Palm Beach Post writes on May 25th on the above title:

I qoute Mr Lantigua:"

Mike Carlton, labor relations director for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, is sometimes criticized for his position on U.S. immigration law.

The group, which represents most of Florida's large growers, supports the legalization of undocumented farm laborers.

"What don't you understand about the word illegal?" critics ask him about the immigrants.

"What don't you understand about the word eating?" is the retort that occurs to Carlton, although he holds his tongue.

Amid a tide of anti-immigrant sentiment, the usually conservative agricultural sector finds itself an unlikely champion of the undocumented worker.

Supporters of changes in immigration law say people who believe all undocumented workers should be expelled from the country don't comprehend how that would affect the availability and security of the U.S. food supply.

"We would be looking at an increase in the cost of food," Carlton said. "And we would almost certainly end up going offshore for much of our food supply, which would also mean having to worry about food safety."

Carlton and other proponents of legalizing farmworkers support a bill before Congress called AgJobs, which could forge a path to documented, permanent residency for those laborers.

Opponents say it amounts to amnesty for entering the country illegally. They also say it doesn't do anything to increase border security.

Craig Regelbrugge, co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform in Washington, believes opponents don't recognize the main security question associated with farm labor. "There would be shortages. Prices would go up" if the U.S. expelled farmworkers, he said. "But we would also make ourselves reliant for our food on other countries."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says at least half of the people who pick U.S. crops are undocumented. Others in the industry say it is closer to 70 percent.

With U.S. production crippled, Brazil would enthusiastically supply citrus and Mexico would gladly sell vegetables, Regelbrugge said. But relations could sour between the U.S. and those countries and leave the nation at the mercy of foreign governments, he said.

Importing fresh milk would be difficult from the outset, said Ray Hodge, director of governmental affairs for Southeast Milk in Marion County, which markets milk produced by more than 100 Florida dairies.

"We supply all the milk to Publix," Hodge said. "If all those workers were kicked out, in about a week there would be a crisis. … Foreign-born workers are the agricultural workforce in this country. Nobody else wants to do it."

The AgJobs bill would give temporary legal residence to about 1 million undocumented farm laborers and roughly the same number of spouses and minor children. Because Florida has the nation's second­-largest agricultural economy, after California, the measure could have a particularly strong impact here.

Applicants would have to prove they had worked a certain number of hours in farm labor during the past two years. They would have to pay $500 in fines for entering the country illegally and settle outstanding tax bills. Felons or those with serious misdemeanor convictions would be excluded.

If they continued to work in agriculture a certain number of hours every year for the next three to five years, they and their immediate families could apply for permanent residence.

Critics complain that there are many unemployed Americans who would take the jobs. Carlton's response: "We have found that not to be true. Even with 10 percent unemployment, agriculture cannot attract native-born Americans."

The work is often hot, back­breaking, isolated, seasonal and transient. Carlton said some farmers have offered up to $15 an hour to U.S. citizens to work as harvesters, much more than foreign workers make, but with little success.

Even though Americans may not want those jobs, the bill has positive employment implications for U.S. citizens, he said: "It's a jobs bill for American workers, because for every person working in the fields, there are two to three jobs upstream that depend on that person." He cites equipment suppliers, truckers, grocery clerks, restaurant workers." Unqoute.

 

I beleive that we can create our own workforce from people who have entered the US legally and chose to work in the farm in case the born Americans do not want to work as the article above points and qoutes one official.I beleive that there are so many Americans who are homeless and would need some training on the farms and would fit in the farm work force.

I beleive that there are already urban farmers who are going out of business because there is no support for their efforts in marketing and growing  locally grown produce.

I beleive that there are opportunities for many legal immigrants who have lost their jobs to apply for farm work  jobs if they are given the incentives ,training and benefits that born Americans ask for.

Why not apply the law equally on all.Those who entered the US legally and paid taxes and obeyed the laws should be given a chance to apply for farm jobs that presently are being to illegals who are treated close to slavery conditions and who are afraid to report abuse by their employers who care only about profits and put them in dire conditions that endanger their lives (exposure to chemicals and pesticides).

The law of the land is made for all .So let us respect it and move forward.The Big Agri business have had its time to reign our farm lands and employ illegals.Now is the time to shift gears and set the stage for  legal and smaller organic farmers ,even at the educational school level , through spreading the awareness of small scale organic farming.

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