It’s not just politicians that do not understand how immigration reform affects agriculture

Despite what the politicians are working on for immigration reform, the general populace seems to still resent the idea.

While immigration reform is still being debated, mauled, massaged, ignored and reviled, with the light at the end of the tunnel being an immigration reform bill, maybe this year, there are still some hot-to-trot voters that think the idea is an anathema. Consider the latest news from a Florida dairy farmer, unable to use a guest-worker program because his operation is year-round. Cows don’t just need to be milked for about four months. Consequently, he and other farmers in the same or similar boat, vocally support immigration reform.

The minute his story hit the news wire he was inundated with nasty emails, calls and faxes from people around the country suggesting they were insulted by his comments and that he had no inkling about immigration. Some suggested he use the H-2A guest-worker program, a clear indication they did not read his full story, that a dairy needs year-round workers.

On the contrary, it appears that those with that opinion are the ones that do not grasp the nature of how immigration reform could positively affect agriculture, and get milk into their fridges across the U.S. In short, immigration reform and agriculture are inextricably linked —- you cannot have one without the other, not if you want your produce, in edible and beverage form, to hit the marketplace and be reasonably priced.

The Florida farmer who spoke out about immigration reform and his growing uncertainty about the wishy-washy Republicans, did not expect to be a target of ill formed and not so righteous wrath. He is uncertain how the negative comments will benefit anyone, let alone be a benefit to obtaining a workable immigration reform bill that would address that nation’s needs, and those of waiting illegal immigrants.

One thing is patently clear: the typical American voter seems to have no real clue how immigration currently affects the U.S. or how it could affect the U.S. in the future, should a reform bill be introduced into law. That being said, he does get why Republicans run, hide, duck and divert the issue as much as they can, as no one likes being the target of such blind and uninformed hatred.

If this level of anger exists in the general public over a farmer that needs year round workers and the current system does not work for him, what will happen if the politicians do cobble together an immigration reform bill? The results might be explosive.