Every four years, the American Farm Bureau Federation asks the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees to address the issues that concern farmers and ranchers the most. We asked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump the same questions.
For farmers and ranchers, immigration reform must balance agriculture’s need for a dependable supply of agricultural labor with enhanced security at our nation’s border. It is a delicate balance that, at present, has not yielded a solution.
Reliable and skilled farm workers are harder to come by with each harvest season. U.S. agriculture faces a critical shortage of workers every year, as citizens are largely unwilling to engage in these rigorous activities and guestworker programs are unable to respond to the marketplace.
Without an efficient and legal way for a dependable supply of farm workers to enter the country, more U.S. crops are being left to rot in the field. Or they cannot expand their fruit and vegetable farm or ranch. And that means consumers will be less able to enjoy American-grown products.
This hurts us all. We need American-grown fruits, vegetables, milk, beef, pork and poultry. If American farmers cannot meet the demand of the American consumer, then some other country’s products will.
We asked each of the candidates the following question:
As president, what would you do to advance immigration reform and resolve the critical labor shortage that many farmers and ranchers face each year? How would you address the issue of undocumented workers who are already working on farms across America, as well as the need for a long-term supply of agricultural workers?
DONALD TRUMP’S RESPONSE:
“I recognize the unique labor challenges facing the American farm community and will include farmers and ranchers in the process of determining the best possible immigration policies. To be clear, the Obama-Clinton system of open borders is wreaking havoc on our rural communities. Enormous stresses are being placed on state and local government services, while jobs for American citizens and wages for American workers are in decline.
“Here are my three core principles of real immigration reform:
- A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
- A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
- A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
On August 31, 2016, I gave a policy speech in Phoenix, Arizona, where I provided details on my immigration plan. This speech is available for review on my website”
HILLARY CLINTON’S RESPONSE:
Hillary knows that migrant farmworkers play a critical role in developing and supporting our agricultural economy. She has heard from farmers across the country who have expressed their frustrations about our broken immigration system.
That’s why as president, Hillary will introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office. It will treat every person with dignity, fix the family visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy. Hillary understands that the agricultural industry needs comprehensive immigration reform to protect both farm owners and the workers they employ, and ensure American families are able to put affordable, fresh food on their tables.