Van Wingerden Intl’s Lemkes Testifies On Immigration Policy

Lemkes: E-Verify Poses Dangers To Ag

Bert Lemkes, co-owner of Van Wingerden Intl., Mills River, NC is testifying today before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. The subcommittee is holding a hearing on the E-Verify program and identity theft issues.

Lemkes’ operation, which employs 350 people at peak season, is using the federal E-Verify program and has learned first-hand of the challenges it poses for agricultural employers. Lemkes cautioned Subcommittee members that making E-Verify mandatory without broader reforms could have the opposite of its intended effect, since false documents that feature a legitimate name and Social Security number routinely clear the E-Verify system now. It would also deprive greenhouses, nurseries and farms of much of their labor force.

Most of Lemkes’ testimony, though, focused on the need for Congress to create a viable and practical visa program for agricultural workers desperately needed by farmers across the country. “This spring…had us experiencing terrible problems finding help for our busiest shipping season. When I get the question ‘how does E-Verify work for you?’ my answer is: “Those that are willing to do the work often fail the system, but many of those that pass the system, fail to do the work.”

“This latest in a series of E-Verify hearings signals a renewed push for passage of mandatory E-Verify legislation,” says Craig Regelbrugge, vice president of government relations for the American Nursery & Landscape Association and co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform. “Agriculture has sent a clear message to proponents of E-Verify legislation: E-Verify will decimate American agriculture unless you give us a market based and practical visa program to address the farm labor crisis,” Regelbrugge adds.

Read Lemkes’ full testimony at on

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Van Wingerden Intl’s Lemkes Testifies On Immigration Policy

More From Labor...
Cape Fear Botanical Garden

November 27, 2015

National Garden Bureau Awards Grants To Three Therapeutic Gardens

The grants, totaling $10,000, are through the organization’s Growing For Futures program, which supports the growth of therapeutic gardens across the country.

Read More

November 26, 2015

2015 Metrolina Greenhouses (Huntersville, NC) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

Read More
Yoshimi And Grace Shibata

November 26, 2015

American Floral Endowment Establishes Fund To Honor Legacy Of Yoshimi Shibata

Yoshimi “Shimi” Shibata, a flower grower and wholesale florist, passed away in October at the age of 100.

Read More
Latest Stories
AmericanHort logo

November 17, 2015

Urgent: Your Voice Is Needed On Two Important H-2B Bill…

Two bills concerning the H-2B program were recently introduced in the House and Senate (H.R.3918 and S.2225). Both bills address key issues that employers continue to face with the H-2B program. Please urge your members of Congress to support these bills.

Read More

October 27, 2015

How Dallas Johnson Greenhouses Is Simplifying Shipping

Two years ago, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses, a 61-acre operation in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and No. 21 of Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers, was struggling to get its orders out. With its range of potted annuals, there were so many skus that it was impossible to get enough carts into the shipping greenhouse, and the crew couldn’t get orders processed fast enough. As a result, the operation was consistently pulling orders until midnight every night during the busy shipping season, says President and CEO Todd Johnson. So Johnson got together with Arie Van Wingerden at Cherry Creek Systems to discuss his problem, and what they came up with has changed everything, Johnson says. Inside one of Dallas Johnson Greenhouses’ existing structures, the team installed a shipping system made with Echo-Veyors, the popular cable conveyor system designed by Cherry Creek Systems. The system was placed right in the front of the greenhouse, […]

Read More

October 20, 2015

How To Attract The Best Greenhouse Job Candidates

Hire five-star employees for your greenhouse with seven techniques guaranteed to attract the type of talent that strengthens your operation.

Read More

September 23, 2015

Cultivate’15 Session Reveals How To Attract Young…

A dynamic discussion during Cultivate’15 between growers, horticulture professors and both current students and recent graduates, provided some insight on how grower operations can attract the next generation of growers, and what’s important to make them stay once you hire them. The session, “Attracting the Next Generation of Industry Professionals,” featured a panel including Dr. Peg McMahon of The Ohio State University’s Horticulture and Crop Science Department, Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co., Dr. Brian Jackson from North Carolina State University’s Department of Horticulture, Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm, Douglas Schuster of Kingwood Center and Courtney Crawford of Millcreek Gardens. The preface for the session is something many industry professionals have lamented for years now — enrollment in college horticulture programs is dropping, and university programs are losing funds or disappearing. Much of this may be attributed to the perception among potential students and their parents that horticulture means […]

Read More

September 14, 2015

Smith Gardens Is Developing Growers With A New Initiati…

Finding enough qualified growers has long been a problem in the industry, but it’s one that Smith Gardens is working to solve, at least locally. The operation, which ranks No. 22 on Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers list, is the largest in the Pacific Northwest, and spans more than 50 acres of greenhouses and 50 acres of field growing over four locations in Washington, Oregon and California. As a 112-year-old family business that recognizes the need to invest in its future, Smith Gardens has made its Cultivating The Future initiative a corporate priority to attract young people to careers in the horticulture industry. Don Spence, the production manager at Smith Gardens’ Aurora, Ore., location, started working with local schools years ago. The operation expanded its program to local community colleges, and this year Smith Gardens worked with the American Floral Endowment to set up an internship program, and hosted an […]

Read More
Laura Drotleff

September 14, 2015

Develop New Growers In Your Own Backyard [Opinion]

One of the greatest parts of my job is having the opportunity to honor ingenuity in breeding, marketing and innovative growing in this industry at Greenhouse Grower’s Evening Of Excellence, a premier event held during Cultivate in July. The work leading up to the event is just as rewarding, from attending California Spring Trials to see all of the beautiful new varieties released to the marketplace to inspire consumers and solve problems for growers, to selecting the best of the best varieties for Medal Of Excellence In Breeding Awards. I humbly learn about and choose the Marketing and Industry Achievement Awards through industry nominations, and serve as a member of the selection panel for the Grower Of The Year Awards, on which we review nominations from people across the industry about creative, hardworking, dedicated operations and individuals who not only love their work but also live it. The Evening Of […]

Read More
Girl on Smartphone

July 15, 2015

Keynote Curt Steinhorst Says Generational Divide A Prod…

Curt Steinhorst of The Center for Generational Kinetics kicked off Cultivate'15 with a dynamic keynote address filled with humor on how to bridge the generational gaps in the workforce and use it to your competitive advantage.

Read More
Vegetables with knife

May 14, 2015

Keeping Your Fruits And Vegetables Safe: Best Practices…

Part three of the food safety series focuses on worker hygiene, visitor policies and other biosecurity measures to safeguard the greenhouse.

Read More

April 8, 2015

AmericanHort And State Associations Advocate For Workfo…

AmericanHort, along with roughly two dozen other state association partners, joined nearly 140 organizations in a letter to the House of Representatives responding to the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.1147), which is being voted on without provisions that would ensure legal workforce options for agricultural and seasonal employers. H.R.1147 would mandate that all U.S. employers use the federal E-Verify program.

Read More

March 18, 2015

H-2B Situation Goes From Bad To Even Worse

On March 5, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will no longer accept or process H-2B labor certifications or requests for H-2B prevailing wage determinations in light of a March 4 decision. Shortly after the DOL announcement, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services followed suit, announcing it will at least temporarily cease approving visa petitions. These announcements essentially shut down the H-2B program for any company that has not completed the DHS H-2B visa petitioning process.

Read More

March 4, 2015

H-2B Cap Hit, Adding to Visa Program Woes

The H-2B visa cap for the first half of fiscal 2015 was hit late in January. As a result, some growers may not have access to the H-2B workers they need during the months ahead. The visa cap and resulting labor shortages will have impacts throughout the horticulture industry.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Immigration — Obama Acts Without Congress

On November 20, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration policy, which are already proving to be politically divisive, and many Republican legislators say this unilaterally "poisons the well" for reform. In AmericanHort's view, that dire prediction need not be the case.

Read More

November 17, 2014

USDA Names First Liaison For Veterans Interested In Agr…

The new Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison position will coordinate ongoing USDA support for active duty military and veterans.

Read More

September 26, 2014

GROW Perspective: Government Compliance Issues On The H…

Lack of focus on human resources can sink your ship

Read More

September 26, 2014

Great Things In Store For North Creek Nurseries

With a brand new greenhouse in the works and lean flow manufacturing boosting its bottom line, North Creek Nurseries ventures into a new era of growing for its customers.

Read More

September 11, 2014

Is Lean Flow The Competitive Edge You Need?

If you’re feeling worked to the bone, cramped for space or starved for profits, now is the time to look into lean flow.

Read More

July 22, 2014

Proposed Worker Protection Standard Changes You Need To…

The comment period for the proposed Worker Protection Standards ends on August 18, 2014. Find out how the proposed changes will affect your greenhouse operation.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

July 8, 2014

Consider Hiring Non-Traditional Growers To Secure Our I…

Your operation can benefit from hiring returning veterans, professionals changing careers and non-traditional students, in addition to horticulture graduates. Where have you had luck recruiting?

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]