Obama gives his speech about executive orders related to immigration reform, Thursday, November 20, 2014.
Obama gives his speech about executive orders related to immigration reform, Thursday, November 20, 2014.

State and national dairy and agriculture groups weighed in Thursday night and through the weekend as President Obama outlined executive orders in regard to immigration reform Thursday. 

The President outlined through a speech held Thursday that he will allow 4 million undocumented immigrants to “have the opportunity to play by the rules.” According to a White House graphic, Obama will:

“In order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation, these undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents would shave to:

  • Have been here 5+ years
  • Pass a background check
  • Pay taxes”

One of the first groups to respond Thursday evening was the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), who downplayed the action’s effect on agriculture by stating, “In practical terms, we do not expect the president’s initiative to help America’s farmers deal with the real labor challenges they face.” AFBF asked for a flexible visa program providing long-term access, noting that millions of dollars in fruit and vegetable production are lost each year due to labor shortages.

State Farm Bureaus also weighed in, including Wisconsin who specifically cited their issues with the “touch-back provisions” requiring workers to return to their home country every year.

California, the state most likely to be affected by immigration reform due to their top ranking in undocumented workers, asked for stronger borders in addition to any reform. The state is estimated to have nearly 2.5 million undocumented workers — the highest of any state — representing 6.3% of all state citizens, trailing only Nevada, according to a Pew Research Center study published in the Washington Post

New York Farm Bureau also responded, calling it a food security issue.

Dairy groups looking for more

On Friday, the National Milk Producers Federation, who noted the action “...will not solve the current or future needs of dairy farmers.” and called the situation “…both an opportunity and an obligation for Congress.” NMPF asked for a long-term solution for current workers and future labor needs in 2015.

In California, two state policy groups commented on the manner. Western United Dairymen (WUD) asked for year-round labor programs through Congressional action in the WUD Friday Update, and the Milk Producers Council said it looked forward to working with political leaders on the issue.