Western Growers president Tom Nassif met with federal lawmakers in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss national immigration reform and implementation of the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act.

The meetings came as national attention focused on immigration reform and the reintroduction of the Agricultural Jobs, Opportunities and Benefits Act of 2005 (AgJOBS) by Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in the Senate as well as Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) in the House and a wide range of bipartisan co-sponsors.

Western Growers and its 3,000 members are taking an active role in bringing about comprehensive solutions to the current immigration crisis and back the President's position on some form of a guest worker program. "We agree with the President that solutions must include a workable guest worker program for agriculture," said Nassif. "While we oppose amnesty, reform must include an adjustment of status for law-abiding workers who meet strict requirements."

While in Washington, Nassif also met with lawmakers and industry leaders to speed implementation and funding for the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act (HR 3242). The SCCA, signed into law by President Bush in January, revolutionizes federal funding policy to assist the fresh produce industry with market access, science and technology. The legislation authorizes $54 million annually for five years to enhance the competitiveness, both domestically and internationally, of each state's fresh produce crops.

WG is an agricultural trade association whose 3,000 members grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh vegetables and nearly 70 percent of the fresh fruit and nuts grown in Arizona and California, about one-half of the nation's fresh produce.

Source: PRNewswire