A director of legislative affairs told the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association board of directors that if immigration reform doesn’t happen in the next two months it likely won’t happen until 2017.
Kam Quarles, director of legislative affairs for the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, provided an update to the FFVA board of directors at their summer meeting May 30 and explained where immigration reform stands in the House of Representatives, where it remains stalled.
"The long and short of it is that the end of this process is August," he said. "If we're not successful in the next 60 days, it's over. The window closes until 2017."
FFVA has been working tirelessly as part of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition to drive home the need for reform for agriculture, he said. Should a bill be proposed in the next couple of months, Quarles and FFVA President Mike Stuart stressed the need for individual growers to contact their congressional representative to strongly urge their support for a bill.
"The big question is what comes next? We need to get something across the House floor. Ultimately, the only thing I'm sure of is that if nothing passes, it's done," Quarles told the labor committee.
Other highlights from the board and committee meetings include:
- A recap by Rep. Jake Raburn of legislative highlights in Tallahassee this past session, including significant tax cuts. He urged the group to get to know their representatives and to actively support candidates who are champions for agriculture in upcoming elections.
- A side-by-side comparison of the existing Worker Protection Standard rule and revisions proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Comments on the proposed rule are due to the agency by mid-August.
- An update on legal efforts in a precedent-setting case to stop Alachua County from imposing duplicative wetlands regulations on growers. The state says the county is violating the 2003 Agriculture Lands and Practices Act, which prohibits municipalities from enforcing local ordinances on agriculture lands if they are under Best Management Practices.
- A review of the legislative session in Tallahassee, with agriculture not seeing as much success as the 2013 session. A key bill exempting certain farm equipment from sales tax passed in the Senate but died in the House.
- An overview of the current marketing and advertising programs of the state Department of Agriculture's Fresh From Florida program.