Today at 10 am CST, the American Business Immigration Coalition Action (ABIC Action) and others will participate in a press event and round table entitled “Lower Food Prices, Keep Shelves Stocked: Common Sense Solutions to Texas’ Farm Labor Shortage.” The event is the latest in a multistate series of events with agricultural stakeholders to call attention to the urgency of fixing the nation’s farm labor shortage by passing new Senate agriculture workforce solutions.
Also participating in the round table are: Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO, Texas International Produce Association; Bret Erickson, senior vice-president of business affairs, Little Bear Produce; Gerry Garcia, vice-president of special projects and government affairs, McAllen Chamber of Commerce; mayor Javier Villalobos, City of McAllen; mayor Ramiro Garza, City of Edinburg; Juan Carlos Cerda, Texas state director and deputy campaign director, ABIC - Action.
The hour-long event takes place today at 10 a.m. CST at Little Bear Produce (7310 N Expressway 281, Edinburg, TX 78542). (Livestream here.)
Galeazzi recently authored a piece highlighting the issues at hand. Key points include:
- In the past, South Texas had a strong labor pool of both Americans who lived in the area and Mexican citizens who crossed the border daily with a visa. That labor force has plummeted in recent years. Between 2002 and 2014, the number of full-time field and crop workers in the U.S. dropped by more than 20 percent — at least 146,000 people — according to New American Economy (NAE).
- When farmers post hiring notices for low-skilled labor in areas like planting, cultivating or harvesting, U.S. workers take those jobs only six percent of the time, according to the Department of Labor.
- Across the U.S., if labor shortages were not an issue, the production of these crops would be worth an additional $3.1 billion per year, according to NAE, plus $2.8 billion in spending on related services.
On the national level, Texas A&M International University recently released data from a new economic study on the link between stabilizing the agricultural workforce and decreasing inflation and consumer prices, showing that ensuring farmers have a stable, secure, reliable and legal workforce is crucial to keeping America’s grocery shelves stocked, combating inflation and lowering food prices.
In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act with bipartisan support. That was a good start and now in the Senate, Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mike Bennet (D-CO) have taken the lead on negotiating improvements on the House's solutions and moving the process forward. Passing new Senate legislation is critical to solving labor shortages facing the Texas agriculture sector and sustaining the state’s economy as a whole.