OFA Bulletin Nov/Dec 2009 : Page 3

November/December 2009 • Numb e r 9 1 8 Legislative Update There is some industry reliance upon the existing but limited temporary and seasonal guest worker programs, notably H-2A (agricultural workers) and H-2B (non-agricultural, such as landscape workers). But both programs have limits, and both are under regulatory assault by the Department of Labor. ANLA helped to negotiate and has long supported legislation known as the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act, or AgJOBS. AgJOBS is a carefully-crafted compromise among employer and worker advocates that would accomplish two things. In the long term, it would overhaul the dysfunctional H-2A program to make it more streamlined and affordable. Reforms would be accomplished in statute, limiting the discretion of current and future labor secretaries to change the program to suit their own political agendas. Stability is the watchword. AgJOBS would also facilitate a transition to legal immigration status for the most experienced and otherwise law-abiding, but improperly documented, farm workers. Upwards of 75 percent of the nursery, greenhouse, and farm workers toiling in the United States lack proper immigration status. Our nation has brought this reality upon ourselves since we have needed the labor but have not provided workable legal channels. Many unauthorized farm workers are highly skilled, and some even have supervisory or “key man” roles. Rounding them up and deporting them would cripple U.S. production and hasten the offshoring of much of our labor-intensive agricultural production. Off-farm but farm-dependent U.S. jobs would follow. AgJOBS (H.R.2414 and S.1308) has about 50 co-sponsors in the House and more than 20 in the Senate. We urge members of the industry to reach out to their elected Senators and Representative to encourage them to add support for this critical element of immigration reform. We are hopeful that Congress will get to immigration reform, whether in the form of a comprehensive bill or a smaller package that gets the process started, either late in 2009 or in the first few months of 2010. By May or June, all focus will shift to the November 2010 mid-term Congressional elections, and action on big, controversial issues will be nearly impossible. The longer Congress defers action on immigration, the more intractable the problem becomes. Whether it is done comprehensively or piece by piece, Congress and the President need to tackle the issue, not kick the can further down the road. Craig J. Regelbrugge American Nursery & Landscape Association 1000 Vermont Ave. NW, 3rd Floor Washington, DC 20005 202-741-4851 cregelbrugge@anla.org Missed a session from the 2009 OFA Short Course? •View available session audio and presentations from any computer •Download session audio to your computer or MP3 player NO PROBLEM! Educate Your Staff Year-Round with an Online Library or Multimedia CD-ROM 2009 OFA Short Course Online Library Listen to streaming audio and view presentation materials online. Educate yourself anytime, anywhere! OR 2009 OFA Short Course Multimedia CD-ROM Review at your leisure with the 2009 OFA Short Course Multimedia CD-ROM – compatible with your Windows PC or Apple Macintosh. Multi-Year Online Library Includes Complete Online Access to All 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Conference Sessions. Access streaming content from anywhere with the OFA Short Course Online Library. Instant access, 24 hours a day! $229 Members Non-Members $279 $399 Members Non-Members $429 Products include all available session audio and presentation materials. To Order, Call: 1–800–679–3646 or www.prolibraries.com/ofa ovember/December 2009 • Numb e r 9 1 8 Legislative Update There is some industry reliance upon the existing but limited temporary and seasonal guest worker programs, notably H-2A (agricultural workers) and H-2B (non-agricultural, such as landscape workers). But both programs have limits, and both are under regulatory assault by the Department of Labor. ANLA helped to negotiate and has long supported legislation known as the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act, or AgJOBS. AgJOBS is a carefully-crafted compromise among employer and worker advocates that would accomplish two things. In the long term, it would overhaul the dysfunctional H-2A program to make it more streamlined and affordable. Reforms would be accomplished in statute, limiting the discretion of current and future labor secretaries to change the program to suit their own political agendas. Stability is the watchword. AgJOBS would also facilitate a transition to legal immigration status for the most experienced and otherwise law-abiding, but improperly documented, farm workers. Upwards of 75 percent of the nursery, greenhouse, and farm workers toiling in the United States lack proper immigration status. Our nation has brought this reality upon ourselves since we have needed the labor but have not provided workable legal channels. Many unauthorized farm workers are highly skilled, and some even have supervisory or “key man” roles. Rounding them up and deporting them would cripple U.S. production and hasten the offshoring of much of our labor-intensive agricultural production. Off-farm but farm-dependent U.S. jobs would follow. AgJOBS (H.R.2414 and S.1308) has about 50 co-sponsors in the House and more than 20 in the Senate. We urge members of the industry to reach out to their elected Senators and Representative to encourage them to add support for this critical element of immigration reform. We are hopeful that Congress will get to immigration reform, whether in the form of a comprehensive bill or a smaller package that gets the process started, either late in 2009 or in the first few months of 2010. By May or June, all focus will shift to the November 2010 mid-term Congressional elections, and action on big, controversial issues will be nearly impossible. The longer Congress defers action on immigration, the more intractable the problem becomes. Whether it is done comprehensively or piece by piece, Congress and the President need to tackle the issue, not kick the can further down the road. Craig J. Regelbrugge American Nursery & Landscape Association 1000 Vermont Ave. NW, 3rd Floor Washington, DC 20005 202-741-4851 cregelbrugge@anla.org Missed a session from the 2009 OFA Short Course? •View available session audio and presentations from any computer •Download session audio to your computer or MP3 player NO PROBLEM! Educate Your Staff Year-Round with an Online Library or Multimedia CD-ROM 2009 OFA Short Course Online Library Listen to streaming audio and view presentation materials online. Educate yourself anytime, anywhere! OR 2009 OFA Short Course Multimedia CD-ROM Review at your leisure with the 2009 OFA Short Course Multimedia CD-ROM – compatible with your Windows PC or Apple Macintosh. Multi-Year Online Library Includes Complete Online Access to All 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Conference Sessions. Access streaming content from anywhere with the OFA Short Course Online Library. Instant access, 24 hours a day! $229 Members Non-Members $279 $399 Members Non-Members $429 Products include all available session audio and presentation materials. To Order, Call: 1–800–679–3646 or www.prolibraries.com/ofa 3 3

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