OFA Bulletin July/August 2011 : Page 3

July/August 2011 • N u m b e r 9 2 8 seasonal labor program, which is used by some in the industry, is a bureaucratic nightmare that provides only 2 to 3 percent of needed workers. Meanwhile, enforcement threats are real and worsening. I-9 worksite audits are happening at a record pace and have hit many green industry employers. Some states are acting in the face of Congressional inaction, passing bills mandating use of the federal e-Verify program. And Congress itself is expected to debate mandatory e-Verify this summer. Such a bill could sail through the House. Don’t count on the Senate or President Obama to stop it. E-Verify is popular, and many in both parties support it – so do anti-immigrant groups and most labor unions. Against this backdrop, ANLA is leading (literally) the effort to urge Congress to create a realistic and flexible agricultural worker program. History has shown that positive immigration legislation must be bipartisan in order to be viable. It must address future needs and provide some type of work authorization for the experienced workforce. Your support is needed now. Your elected leaders need to hear about the loss of jobs and economic activity if your business cannot find enough workers or loses some of the workers you have. Ending on a positive note – in these times of sky-high energy prices, we need every tool in the tool kit to reduce operating costs. USDA recently invited agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for loans and grants to implement renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements under the REAP (Rural Energy for America) Program. ANLA is pleased that this year’s program removes the “rural limitation” that had precluded many nurseries and greenhouses nearer to urban areas from applying for REAP loans and grants (note the rural restrictions still apply for non-agricultural small businesses). This had been a major ANLA priority. For information on how to apply, contact your local USDA Rural Development office or see page 20943 of the April 14 Federal Register, http://edocket. access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-8456.pdf. A list of USDA offices is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ StateOfficeAddresses.html. A full release on the REAP program is at www.rurdev.usda.gov/STELPRD4009580.html. Until next time… Craig J. Regelbrugge Vice President, Government Relations and Research American Nursery & Landscape Association 1000 Vermont Ave NW, 3rd Floor Washington, DC 20005 202-789-2900 cregelbrugge@anla.orgG Boost Your Bottom Line Profit-Packed SoluGtions for Growers and Garden Center RGetailers. November 8-9, 2011 Raleigh, North CaroGlina OFA Bulletin 3

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