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Grocers Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

For too many years Congress failed to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform and by doing so ignored the status of the now estimated 11 million undocumented immigrations currently living and working in the United States. Subsequently, businesses have been left to grapple with what has become a matrix of state and local immigration laws passed to fill the void left by Congress. 

As grocers we open ours doors each and every day to serve our local communities. More and more of our customers and our associates are impacted by the failure of our immigration system, either directly or indirectly. Some grocers have even been subjected to intrusive and costly actions by federal and state local law enforcement in search of potential undocumented workers or other violations. Inaction is no longer an option. The time is come for our nation to address the immigration issue head on.  

In February 2013 the National Grocers Association’s Board of Directors appointed a committee to study the immigration issue and ultimately make a policy recommendation for NGA to adopt.  In April a position recommendation was made and subsequently approved unanimously by the Board of Directors, leading NGA to take the bold step of endorsing comprehensive immigration reform. 

NGA’s position calls for comprehensive reform that preempts state and local laws and includes four major provisions:

  • Secure borders and respect for the rule of law.
  • Mandatory E-Verify at no cost to employers for new hires only with a strong safe harbor that protects employers acting in good faith.
  • Support for an expanded guest worker program that includes trades such as bakers, butchers, and cooks.
  • A path to legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants so that they can come out of the shadows, while keeping families together.

Embracing comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the real challenges facing our nation today, while ensuring strong protections for employers acting in good faith, is a step in the right direction. Independent grocers are willing to be part of the solution as long as employers are provided with appropriate safe harbors to ensure their ability to comply without fear of criminal or civil reprisals. We know that we are asking our members subject themselves to new administrative burdens through E-Verify and we don’t take that mandate lightly; however immigration reform is coming and with it will be a mandatory employment verification component. By working with Congress and other stakeholders we can be part of the solution and enact comprehensive reform that works for grocers and the communities we serve.

It’s time for Congress to do the right thing and pass comprehensive immigration reform that supports the principles supported by NGA’s Board. The Senate recently took the important step in passing their bill and now the focus shifts to the House where the Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings and considering proposals. NGA will continue to be part of that process and support common sense efforts that strengthen employer protections.

The immigration debate is one that we all have a stake in and should support Congress working in a bi-partisan manner to pass a comprehensive bill that works for all. It’s the right thing to do for our country and the right thing to do for our industry.     

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Produce industry praises Senate for immigration vote, urges House to act

WASHINGTON—The agricultural industry wasted no time hailing the Senate for passing, by a 68-32 vote, an immigration reform bill on June 27, but the focus quickly shifts to the House and a July 10 meeting where the House Republican leadership will carve out next steps for immigration reform.

The “Gang of Eight” Senators spearheaded this bill, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) worked behind the scenes to forge an agreement between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers on the agricultural provisions that producers and farm workers could live with.

For the produce industry, immigration reform has been a number one issue for years and the Senate vote was nothing short of historic.

“This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain and boost the economy,” said Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association. “We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”

“The hardworking farmers, farm workers and workers from every affected industry deserve a new immigration system from its elected representatives,” said Western Growers CEO and President Tom Nassif, who thanked lawmakers for their leadership in approving S. 744.

United Farm Workers said the bill “fulfills the urgent need for an earned legalization program that enables undocumented farm workers who are the backbone of the nation’s agricultural industry to swiftly obtain legal immigration satus,” as well as stablize the farm labor workforce by providing incentives for workers to continue jobs in agriculture.

All eyes turn to the House, which is scheduled for a weeklong break in their districts before returning to Capitol Hill for a much-anticipated July 10 meeting with House Republican leadership on the best ways to tackle immigration reform legislation. Chances of considering the Senate-passed bill in the House are slim.

“The Senate’s passage was remarkable in a lot of ways, but it’s just the next step in a journey,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. The House needs 218 votes to pass a bill that can go into conference and work out differences on the agricultural provisions, he said.

“We need to get to conference or we won’t have any bill,” Stuart added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Produce industry praises Senate for immigration vote, urges House to act

WASHINGTON—The agricultural industry wasted no time hailing the Senate for passing, by a 68-32 vote, an immigration reform bill on June 27, but the focus quickly shifts to the House and a July 10 meeting where the House Republican leadership will carve out next steps for immigration reform.

The “Gang of Eight” Senators spearheaded this bill, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) worked behind the scenes to forge an agreement between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers on the agricultural provisions that producers and farm workers could live with.

For the produce industry, immigration reform has been a number one issue for years and the Senate vote was nothing short of historic.

“This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain and boost the economy,” said Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association. “We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”

“The hardworking farmers, farm workers and workers from every affected industry deserve a new immigration system from its elected representatives,” said Western Growers CEO and President Tom Nassif, who thanked lawmakers for their leadership in approving S. 744.

United Farm Workers said the bill “fulfills the urgent need for an earned legalization program that enables undocumented farm workers who are the backbone of the nation’s agricultural industry to swiftly obtain legal immigration satus,” as well as stablize the farm labor workforce by providing incentives for workers to continue jobs in agriculture.

All eyes turn to the House, which is scheduled for a weeklong break in their districts before returning to Capitol Hill for a much-anticipated July 10 meeting with House Republican leadership on the best ways to tackle immigration reform legislation. Chances of considering the Senate-passed bill in the House are slim.

“The Senate’s passage was remarkable in a lot of ways, but it’s just the next step in a journey,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. The House needs 218 votes to pass a bill that can go into conference and work out differences on the agricultural provisions, he said.

“We need to get to conference or we won’t have any bill,” Stuart added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Produce industry praises Senate for immigration vote, urges House to act

WASHINGTON—The agricultural industry wasted no time hailing the Senate for passing, by a 68-32 vote, an immigration reform bill on June 27, but the focus quickly shifts to the House and a July 10 meeting where the House Republican leadership will carve out next steps for immigration reform.

The “Gang of Eight” Senators spearheaded this bill, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) worked behind the scenes to forge an agreement between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers on the agricultural provisions that producers and farm workers could live with.

For the produce industry, immigration reform has been a number one issue for years and the Senate vote was nothing short of historic.

“This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain and boost the economy,” said Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association. “We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”

“The hardworking farmers, farm workers and workers from every affected industry deserve a new immigration system from its elected representatives,” said Western Growers CEO and President Tom Nassif, who thanked lawmakers for their leadership in approving S. 744.

United Farm Workers said the bill “fulfills the urgent need for an earned legalization program that enables undocumented farm workers who are the backbone of the nation’s agricultural industry to swiftly obtain legal immigration satus,” as well as stablize the farm labor workforce by providing incentives for workers to continue jobs in agriculture.

All eyes turn to the House, which is scheduled for a weeklong break in their districts before returning to Capitol Hill for a much-anticipated July 10 meeting with House Republican leadership on the best ways to tackle immigration reform legislation. Chances of considering the Senate-passed bill in the House are slim.

“The Senate’s passage was remarkable in a lot of ways, but it’s just the next step in a journey,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. The House needs 218 votes to pass a bill that can go into conference and work out differences on the agricultural provisions, he said.

“We need to get to conference or we won’t have any bill,” Stuart added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

NGA, Wal-Mart Applaud Senate’s Immigration Reform

ARLINGTON, Va. — Peter J. Larkin, president and chief executive officer of the National Grocers Association here, said Thursday NGA applauds passage by the U.S. Senate of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.

“While no bill is every perfect, this legislation is an important step in the right direction [for] embracing comprehensive reform that addresses the real challenges facing our nation today while ensuring protections for employers acting in good faith.”

Peter Larking, president and CEO, NGALarkin said he urged Congress to “do the right thing” by passing comprehensive immigration reform that encompasses the principles approved by NGA’s board of directors, adding the association will work with the House of Representatives “to do just that.”

In a separate release, Ivan Zapien, vice president, federal government relations, for Wal-Mart Stores, said his company also approved the Senate’s action, “and [we] believe comprehensive immigration reform will have a positive impact on the economy and the customers we serve.”

Read more: Ag Groups Back Senate Immigration Reform Bill

He said Wal-Mart is committed to working with policy makers, employers and consumers “to support this reform that is so desperately needed to our immigration system.  We now encourage members of the House to continue the momentum.”

On Wednesday the Senate amended the immigration bill to include provisions that would double the size of the U.S. Border Patrol along the Mexican border to 40,000 officers; require the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the nation’s southern border; and authorize the use of new radar and unmanned aerial drones to track illegal border crossings — all as a prerequisite for 11 million undocumented immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.

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Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Will Obama’s immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked.

“Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” he continued. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

“We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president’s actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation,” Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. “Some in Congress will argue that the president’s action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation.”

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers’ future labor needs,” it said in a statement.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.