Texas ranchers meet in D.C., immigration top agenda item

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Washington, D.C. – Members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) gathered in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with lawmakers and regulatory officials to discuss issues critical to the cattle industry. The meetings concluded today and were in conjunction with a legislative conference hosted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

One of the major issues facing today’s rancher is the ongoing debate on immigration reform. TSCRA strongly supports reforms that strengthen border security, but also creates a practical, year-round guest-worker program for farmers and ranchers.

“It’s crucial that our lawmakers understand how important it is to our economy to include a practical guest-worker program in any immigration legislation,” said Dr. Richard Thorpe, rancher and TSCRA second vice president. “Cattle raisers don’t support amnesty, but we do think it’s reasonable to allow workers to register, pay a penalty and obtain guest-worker status. This would allow agriculture a legal labor supply while securing our borders and protecting the U.S. against problems associated with illegal immigration.”

The agriculture industry as a whole faces daunting labor force demographics, including a demonstrated shortage of domestic workers to fill agriculture jobs. This reality comes at the same time as a growing population and the need to produce even more food and fiber.

Thorpe says that now more than ever, effective legal means are needed for foreign laborers to be employed in the U.S. agriculture industry.

Other issues of concern to TSCRA include food safety issues, specifically opposing furloughs for USDA Food Safety Inspection Service meat inspectors since this will cause a serious market disruption and have devastating effects on the cattle and beef markets. Cattle Raisers also addressed support for more international trading opportunities, a comprehensive five-year farm bill, and efforts to reform the endangered species act.

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