WASHINGTON, D.C. (10/29/2013) – A group of farmers from Ohio are in the nation's capital this week to meet with members of the Ohio congressional delegation to talk about immigration reform.
They are urging lawmakers to support bipartisan legislation that will strengthen America's economy and create jobs.
"I've been involved in discussions about immigration reform for more than 10 years and every time you think we get close, it falls apart," said Daryl Knipp, owner of Knipp Farms, Inc.
Knipp, from Lindsey, says finding workers for agriculture is not as easy as it used to be.
He said it caused him to change his entire farming operation. Now, he wants a more "available, more legal" workforce.
"We'd like to see a more reasonable guest worker program that would allow workers to come in and work for us then return to their country," Knipp said.
He told Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro, "It's tough to find the type of worker I need in the Toledo workforce."
Without immigration reform legislation, Knipp says he fears local farm families will struggle.
"We want to be legal employers," he said. "We want to treat our workers well. We want to provide good jobs and stimulate the economy."
On Tuesday, Knipp lobbied at Congressman Bob Latta's (R-OH) office. He also visited the office of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). He said he told their offices that he needs help producing quality, low cost food for Ohio families.
Another farmer, Bruce Burma, of Burma Farms, Inc., said the E-Verify program is causing problems. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
"If they do E-Verify before they do a guest worker program, the vegetable and fruit industries in this country will be crippled," Burma said.
The Ohio farmers are receiving help from their local state representative Rep. Terry Boose (R-Norwalk), who cautions that the scope and size of the current immigration reform legislation is too prejudiced.
"It's too hard, too much red tape," he said. "It's too big of a bill that everybody can't agree on," saying that the bill will cause businesses to fail in the state of Ohio.
Though the farmers made it clear that immigration reform needs to happen now, what is not clear is whether or not members of Congress will bring up the legislation before the end of this year.
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