Estimates are that more than 600 business leaders rallied in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to advocate passage of new comprehensive immigration reform law.

The total number of agricultural connected business leaders who were in the crowd is not known, but the American Farm Bureau Federation counted approximately 60 of their state Farm Bureau farmers and leaders from 14 states among the crowd.

The Farm Bureau members were requesting passage of a new farm labor program as part of comprehensive immigration reform. Farm Bureau members spent the day on Capitol Hill talking with their congressional representatives about their need for a reliable workforce. The AFBF is urging Congress to pass immigration reform this year.      

The business leaders’ fly-in event was under the umbrella of Americans for Reform. The Americans for Reform group is comprised of “conservative faith, law enforcement and business groups from around the nation.” The group held more than 150 congressional meetings Tuesday on immigration reform.

“Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.  “Many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force and without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor intensive crops or go off shore. 

“Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food,” said Stallman.