With a little more than two weeks before the presidential elections, campaigns for both Donald Trump-R and Hillary Clinton-D are representing the candidates on issues facing agriculture.
Kathleen Merrigan, former deputy secretary of agriculture, represented the Clinton campaign while Sam Clovis, campaign co-chair, represented the Trump campaign.
AgDay host Clinton Griffiths spoke one-on-one with the candidates about immigration and the impact it could have on agriculture.
Clovis mentioned 1 in 4 workers in agriculture are illegal. He said this is “interesting” because there is no limit in the H-2A Seasonal Agricultural Workers Visa.
“If the ag industry wanted to have legal workers, they could do that,” said Clovis. “It’s a matter of convenience or it's just settled into these issues.”
On the other hand, Merrigan said Clinton understands the ag industry is being “crippled” because there’s no certainty when it comes to workers.
“We don’t know if the labor supply is going to be there,” said Merrigan. “This is at crisis level.”
Despite these differing views on workers, both campaigns say they want immigration reform. Clovis mentioned bringing in farmers and ranchers into the discussion, wanting to establish a rule of law to make the U.S. workforce legal.
“We’re not going out to cripple an industry just because we’ve had a change of administration,” said Clovis.
Merrigan told Griffiths in the first 100 days of Clinton’s term, she wants to put forth a comprehensive immigration reform plan.
“American agriculture is dependent on foreign-born labor and we need to figure this out,” said Merrigan.