Immigration Reform To Help Greenhouse Labor Issues

SAF Members Bring Flower Power To Capitol Hill

Right now The Society of American Florists is getting ready for Congressional Action Days. We ask our members to fly into Washington, D.C., and travel around the Hill, meeting with their specific members of Congress about the issues we think are most important to the industry right now. It gives our members an opportunity to carry their messages to their members of Congress. This is really important because you can say anything in Washington as a lobbyist, but it has to be backed up by the people out there running businesses. We are grateful for the people who come in and carry that message around the Hill. It is also a great opportunity for business owners to connect with their members of Congress.

Lobbying For
Immigration Issues

One of the issues we will be taking to the Hill this year, as we have for the past ten or more years, is that of immigration reform. It is important not just for growers but to wholesalers and retailers. Everyone benefits economically and otherwise when undocumented workers who potentially have to live in the shadows, moving from place to place for fear of being found out, can say, “Yes, I came here as an undocumented worker, but now I want to participate in a program that will allow me to eventually become a citizen of the U.S.”

Right now there is a proposal in the Senate that is not yet a drafted bill. It looks like the Senate is going to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. We have a lot of new Congress members that we need to be educating. We are back at the beginning with immigration reform. On the bright side, agriculture has laid itself a very good foundation because the Senate proposal, even in a non-drafted form, specifically notes that agriculture will have an expedited opportunity to acquire labor. Congress created a special, carved-out section with respect to getting the laborers a green card and work toward citizenship. That’s a very good thing.

Over the past five years, Congress has been pressuring the Administration, and the Administration has realized how important the issue of immigration is. The government has supported heightened enforcement targeted at agricultural employers. In the President’s announcement on Jan. 29, 2013, in which he discussed his pillars of immigration reform, he stated the Administration will continue to include increased or targeted immigration enforcement on employers, including agriculture employers. Nursery and greenhouse employers are a particularly easy target because the workers are visible. You can easily see the workers outside in a greenhouse or nursery. It is easy for these officials to come in and target these employers. Because we are, as an industry, being targeted in this way, we need to make sure we are not sitting ducks. We want to make sure, in this climate, employers are prepared for audits and know their rights should they be asked for their records.

The Role Of Automation

I am in the la-la land of Washington, so I am not hiring people. But I think to expect growers to have the kind of automation that some operations have in Europe, where they are really highly automated, is not likely. I don’t think automation is ever going to replace human labor. I could be wrong, but it seems to me the way growers produce things in the U.S., there is a certain extent to which the processes can be automated. I don’t think automation would replace the need for real-life, trained employees. We need to continue to support our land-grant colleges and make sure these graduates are going to be good greenhouse managers that will support and grow the industry.

Leave a Reply

More From Labor...

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Genetically Engineered Petunias

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More
labor-supply-and-quality

March 27, 2017

Your Help is Needed to Save H-2B Returning Worker Exemption

AmericanHort is leading the charge on this effort, but you can also help by contacting your elected officials via phone calls and social media, or by sending AmericanHort your personal story.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Available for Download

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Latest Stories
labor-supply-and-quality

March 27, 2017

Your Help is Needed to Save H-2B Returning Worker Exemp…

AmericanHort is leading the charge on this effort, but you can also help by contacting your elected officials via phone calls and social media, or by sending AmericanHort your personal story.

Read More
epa-wps-guide-feature-image

January 2, 2017

How Do You Comply With the New Worker Protection Standa…

EPA, in conjunction with the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative, has provided a guide to help users of agricultural pesticides comply with the requirements of the 2015 revised federal Worker Protection Standard.

Read More
Workers are required to wear uniforms and use tools restricted to the section of the facility where they work, and street clothes are prohibited

December 16, 2016

House Failure To Address H-2B Exemption Could Affect Sp…

Despite efforts by AmericanHort and others in the industry, the House of Representatives failed to renew the Returning Worker Exemption, a policy that helps ensure that small and seasonal businesses have an adequate workforce for the peak spring season.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-veterans-workforce

December 13, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Navigates The H-2A Program

Joe Bailey, Human Resources Director at Bailey Nurseries says each operation has to analyze their situation and decide for themselves if the H-2A program is right for them.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-team-feature

December 5, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Has Found Solutions To The Labor S…

A changing seasonal workforce led this Minnesota-based company to explore new labor sources through the H-2A program and refugee organizations, and it’s working out for the better.

Read More
american-floral-endowment-horticulture-careers-video

October 26, 2016

New American Floral Endowment Video Creates Awareness A…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has created a video to promote careers in floriculture and horticulture and to inform students about AFE scholarship and internship programs.

Read More
worker-protection-standard

October 25, 2016

EPA’s Worker Protection Changes To Take Effect In Janua…

The EPA has made a significant number of changes to the Worker Protection Standard, and growers must be compliant by January 2017. Experts from Michigan State University Extension outline how some of these changes could affect you.

Read More
young-professionals

October 25, 2016

AFE Develops Employer Resource Guide For Floral Interns…

The guide was created to help greenhouse and floral companies build a successful internship program, with easy-to-use guidelines and steps to create meaningful learning experiences for the next generation of business leaders.

Read More
EuroAmerican Propagators Greenhouses

October 4, 2016

The New Realities Of Labor Broached At AmericanHort’s 2…

During a labor presentation given at AmericanHort’s 2016 Plug & Cutting Conference, three industry players give their take on the current labor crisis and offer solutions to address the growing challenges.

Read More
Employees separate the plants by stem count, bud development and height. “This process allows us to respond more quickly to specific requests from customers,” Van Wingerden says

September 22, 2016

AmericanHort Hosting Webinar On Overtime Rule Complianc…

The webinar takes place on Thursday, Sept. 29. AmericanHort is also throwing its support behind the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

Read More
Workers

September 20, 2016

How California’s New Overtime Law Will Affect Greenhous…

Some growers say they will have to make hard decisions about worker benefits or the crops they grow. One thing is certain: the need to automate is now more critical than ever.

Read More
Workers at Golden State Bulb Growers clean Calla tubers and select the best quality bulbs, placing them on conveyors to be graded, counted and sorted in the new system

September 13, 2016

Newly Signed California Law Expands Overtime To Farmwor…

The new law, which will be phased in beginning in 2019, is the first of its kind in the nation to end the 80-year-old practice of applying separate labor rules to agricultural laborers.

Read More
Workers at The Farm at Green Village

September 10, 2016

Now Is The Best Time To Demand Federal H-2B Program Sup…

Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution spending bill in the near future, and whether or not that measure includes an H-2B returning worker exemption could impact your labor supply for 2017.

Read More
Michigan State University Employee Handbook

September 2, 2016

Why You Might Need An Employee Handbook For Your Greenh…

Employee handbooks are not just for big greenhouse operations that employ large numbers of workers. According to a Michigan State University expert, they are an important human resources management tool that all growers should have.

Read More
The-Capitol

June 14, 2016

Fate Of H-2B Program A Hot Topic On Capitol Hill This W…

Following a Senate hearing on the economic impact of the H-2B Program, the House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to take up its own version of a funding bill this week.

Read More

May 3, 2016

Migrant Farm Workers Moving Around Less Than In The Pas…

The number of farm workers who migrate and work on multiple farms during the growing season dropped from 55% in 1998 to 20% in 2009.

Read More

January 3, 2016

60,000 New Ag Jobs Leave Employers Scrambling For Talen…

A new report indicates that while new jobs in the agriculture industry may be plentiful, there are not enough new ag graduates to fill the positions.

Read More

December 22, 2015

Newly Signed 2016 Spending Bill Includes H-2B Relief Pr…

Late last week, President Obama signed into law an omnibus spending bill for the fiscal year 2016 that includes important H-2B relief provisions.

Read More