No immigration reform? Big cutbacks in farm production, higher food prices

The American Farm Bureau today issued a report that forecasts declining production and higher imported food prices if immigration reform is not enacted.
The report, Gauging the Farm Sector’s Sensitivity to Immigration Reform via Changes in Labor Costs and Availability, looks at three policy options: (1) enforcement only, as today, (2) general legalization, and (3) guest worker program for agriculture.
The report says that “the hardest-hit domestic food sectors under an enforcement-only scenario are fruit production, which would plummet by 30-61 percent, and vegetable production, which would decline by 15-31 percent. The study also pointed out that while many consider fruit and vegetable production the most labor-reliant sector, livestock production in the U.S. would fall by 13-27 percent.”
“Over five years, an enforcement-only approach would lead to losses in farm income large enough to trigger large scale restructuring of the sector, higher food prices, and greater dependence on imported products.” Stallman said.
The report says that “For a number of reasons, agriculture serves as the bottom rung on the undocumented labor ladder. Many undocumented workers start working in agriculture but move on from agriculture as quickly as possible—particularly if/when changes in their legal status gives them entry into the labor market outside agriculture.”
The press release for the report is here.

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