Resolution on Agricultural Guest Worker Policies

Whereas berry growers all across the country produce valuable and nutritious crops of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and related fruits,

And whereas many commercial berry growers rely upon immigrant workers to harvest their crop, and many depend upon the H2A guest worker program to provide their workers,

And whereas berry growers often hire the same skilled, hardworking families year after year and would far prefer to have legal workers than illegal workers,

And whereas many undocumented workers are making significant contributions to rural communities despite very difficult conditions,

And whereas farmers should not be criminalized if after hiring workers in good faith and performing appropriate status checks these workers turn out to be illegal immigrants,

And whereas, reducing the supply of available labor will make it extremely difficult for seasonal employers such as berry producers to compete with year-round employers such as the landscape, construction, and hospitality industries,

And whereas, closing the borders to migrant workers absent a sensible guest worker program will create extreme hardship for berry producers, drive production overseas, and help put farms out of business,

Be it resolved on this day, March 17, 2006, by the Steering Committee of the National Berry Crops Initiative, that Congress should

  • include a sensible guest worker program in any immigration reform legislation
  • recognize the value of the existing undocumented workers and provide for an orderly transition to legal status, and
  • ensure that the labor needs of agriculture are met in both the short and long term.