Immigration reform will get addressed this year.

That is becoming increasingly obvious, with reports that President Obama and Senate Democrats are planning legislation that would overhaul the current immigration system. Read “Obama, senators plan major immigration bill.”

A number of farm groups are mobilizing, as well, including the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

In a news conference Wednesday morning, NMPF leaders said there is a real opportunity for a breakthrough on Capitol Hill this year on the immigration issue.

“The stars and planets are aligning in the political universe for us to do something on this,” said Chris Galen, senior vice president of communications at NMPF.

NMPF has joined with other agricultural organizations to form the Agriculture Workforce Coalition in an effort to reform federal immigration policies.

“After seven years of hard but fruitless work on this issue, dairy farmers have a rare opportunity in 2013 to achieve a comprehensive solution to the immigration policy challenge, says Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF. “We see our participation in this coalition as the best chance to shape federal policies that will ensure farm employers’ continued access to both existing and future dairy workers.”  

A key to the framework proposed by Agriculture Workforce Coalition 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, such as dairy farms.

“We have tried to retrofit the H2A visa program for dairy farmers, but that effort was a more limited approach. Now, we have the opportunity to do something bigger and comprehensive, with a unique coalition that together will be able to do more than each of our groups alone could do,” says Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of strategic initiatives and trade policy for NMPF.