FORT COLLINS, Colorado — Many farms across the country primarily function by the work of immigrants from all over the world.
Because there is a food shortage crisis coupled with an agriculture laborer shortage, experts believe farms and immigrant workers are the key for agriculture success and solving the food shortage.
A recent study by Texas A&M suggests solving the labor shortages currently impacting the industry will reduce overall food prices.
Food prices have soared by more than 13% in the last year, which is the largest annual increase since 1979.
Immigrants can also be the key to closing that labor gap that farms are experiencing.
Which is why the combination of non-profit organizations, and a new bill could be the very thing to help with the crisis.
In Colorado, there is the Buena Vida Farm, operating by many many migrant women workers from central and south America.
Buana Vida Farm developed a program called the Hispanic Women’s Farming Proyecto, designed to provide agriculture education to immigrant women to help them develop their own business.
“We started the project, it’s in its third year, we have six women and they are the hardest working women you will ever seen,” said Mary Lou Smith, who help start the program, “They are all entrepreneurial, they all have other jobs and they come here mostly once a week all day every Monday. And then they work all their other jobs around that, but this time during harvest they have to come extra, and they have families and are working so hard. It’s just unbelievable and during the hot part of the day. Hispanic folk are at a tremendous disadvantage when it comes to getting their papers, especially if they came here without papers, which most of those I’m acquainted with have done. Yes, there are some that believe that if immigrants aren’t taking these jobs, others will they’re wrong about that, but even those folks there are a lot of common ground there.”
Which is why programs like these and a bipartisan bill come into play.
Advocates are hoping for the success of the farm workforce modernization act – stating it could play a crucial role in easing the industry’s current labor shortage and lowering high food prices for consumers.
The bill, which has been passed twice by the U.S. House of Representatives, provides legal status for experienced domestic farmworkers and streamlines the h-2a temporary worker visa program.
“But I wanted these women to have more of an opportunity to more than just pick crops,” Smith said. “I wanted them to have an opportunity for them to really learn about agriculture.”
“This program is important because they give us immigrants the opportunity to have a job,” said Rebecca who is part of the program. “Besides working and learning the job, we’re also getting certificate in agriculture.”
Now, programs like Proyecto that are providing education is more important than ever.
Smith said by providing that experience, it can allow more workers in the agriculture industry.
But more importantly, for these workers to progress and run their own farm and business one day.