WUD joins national Agriculture Workforce Coalition with goal of access to a stable, skilled workforce

Jan. 11, 2013 Modesto, CA - - Western United Dairymen has joined with a broad cross-section of organizations representing agricultural employers to form the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC). The coalition’s focus is on seeking legislation that ensures America’s farms, ranches and other agricultural operations have access to a stable and skilled workforce. Formation of the AWC was announced Friday.
“Western United Dairymen has been actively involved in the issue of immigration reform for many years on behalf of California dairy families,” explained CEO Michael Marsh. “The coalition has been working on a farm worker visa reform proposal for several months and the opportunity to pass legislation that appears to have surfaced early in the new Congress suggested there is benefit in joining together in a coalition of like-minded groups. We hope this unified voice will be heard by those in Congress.”
The Coalition, recognizing that existing programs and previous proposals have proved unworkable, is putting forward a framework that includes both an earned adjustment in status for current experienced farm workers and a program to ensure that producers continue to have access to a workforce as current agricultural employees move on to other jobs. A key to the framework will be ensuring that it meets the needs of all of agriculture—both those employers with seasonal labor needs and those who provide year-round employment opportunities.
"It takes many hands to feed America," noted Marsh. "We know that all too well in California.  One of every five gallons of milk comes from our state. We must have access to a stable, legal workforce including our current, experienced workers."
The AWC issued a press release stating, “American agriculture as we know it would not be possible without the contributions of more than 1.5 million hired workers each year. Beyond the farm gate, each of these workers supports two to three full-time jobs in the food processing, transportation, farm equipment, marketing, retail and other sectors. Ensuring that farmers, ranchers and growers have access to the workers they need to maintain their productivity and competitiveness will help support continued growth in employment across the economy and in areas far removed from farm country.”
Additional information on the AWC can be found on its website: www.agworkfrocecoalition.org
WUD is a voluntary membership organization representing more than 60% of the milk produced in California. Membership benefits include resources in labor law, environmental regulations and pricing issues. Members decide the direction of state and federal legislative efforts affecting the dairy industry.