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Ag Groups Affirm Support for Senate Immigration Reform Bill

WASHINGTON — United Fresh, along with agricultural organizations, held a press conference here on Wednesday to underscore their support of proposed immigration-reform legislation passed by the Senate earlier in the day.

United’s CEO Tom Stenzel said that the bill — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — aims to provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers in the United States, and that that benefits producers, retailers, consumers because it will ensure a steady, supply of produce grown in this country.

Speakers touched on some of the major points of the bill that will affect U.S  growers.

Read more: Retailers Cautioned on Immigration Rules

For example, undocumented agricultural workers, who can prove they worked 100 days in agriculture in 2011 and in 2012, will be granted temporary legal status, and an opportunity to apply for a green card at a later date so long as they continue to work in agriculture. E-verify enforcement would be put on hold.

Those participating at the event included Chuck Conner, president & CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; Arturo Rodriguez, president, United Farm Workers; Tom Nassif, president & CEO, Western Growers; Jerry Kozak, president & CEO, National Milk Producers Federation; Mike Stuart, president & CEO, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association; and Nancy Foster, president & CEO, U.S. Apple Association.

Following the event, United issued a statement summarizing parts of the bill that would affect U.S. agriculture. In that statement, Stenzel re-affirmed United Fresh’s continued involvement.

“United Fresh will continue to advance agriculture labor reform as part of the broader immigration reform package to ensure a stable workforce for our members and the broader fresh produce industry through grassroots efforts and continued cooperation with AWC and other stakeholders,” Stenzel said.

The Produce Marketing also released a statement supporting the bill.

“The Senate legislation addresses the critical workforce needs of American agriculture, now and into the future,” said Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of PMA.

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