“It’s a tough budget environment, a tough political environment, a tough legislative environment. We’ll certainly be working with (lawmakers) in the House … to insure they’re aware of specialty crop policy priorities and the challenges the industry faces.”

The possibility of America importing a majority of its food if the labor situation isn’t worked out…

“It stands to reason to ask the question. If you can’t get folks to harvest and process … you have to wonder what ultimately will happen. It’s a valid question to consider…

“Field work is very hard and something we’ve had to work to clear up is that these jobs also require tremendous skill and experience. You can’t just put anyone in the field and have harvest be done correctly. To be efficient and effectively, you need workers who have the skills and experience.  

“That’s something we’ve had to get across (in Congress) and other sectors. This isn’t simply a matter of having bodies show up.

“This isn’t going away and is an issue across agriculture, not just for produce. Even though everyone in this country is affected daily by agriculture and how well it’s doing, the education effort about the industry is constantly needed.

“Policymakers need to know about the needs and challenges of the industry from the inside because they’re sometimes unaware. (Farmers) shouldn’t be afraid to speak up.”

dbennett@farmpress.com