Immigration a local issue
The agriculture community is 2 percent of the population embracing the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. For us, immigration is not a citizenship issue nor is it a border-state issue. It is a real-life, complex issue impacting the food-supply chain.
Immigration needs to be resolved at the congressional level. But it is important that you know how immigration impacts Pennsylvania agriculture.
With agriculture as the number-one industry in Pennsylvania, generating $6.7 billion in cash receipts and $67 billion in total economic impact, the commonwealth's agriculture producers and related businesses require a reliable, trained and legal workforce in order to produce a safe and secure food supply.
Our immigration system is a broken relic of the past. We need a workable solution to the barriers that make it difficult for Pennsylvania's farmers to secure a reliable, dependable and consistent workforce. The agricultural industry needs real, meaningful immigration reform that will encapsulate the many shortcomings of our current policy — mainly addressing the antiquated visa system, the temporary worker program and, of course, enforcement of the law.
All too often, the current system tragically turns away the very kind of workers who could have an immediate impact on Pennsylvania's agricultural industry, which struggles to find a workforce needed to harvest our food supply.
Christian R. Herr
The writer is executive vice president of PennAg Industries Association.