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Press Release - 102507 - NURSERY INDUSTRY LEADERS ENCOURAGE SENATE TO RELIEVE FARM WORKER SHORTAGE
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News Release from: Oregon Assn. of Nurseries

NURSERY INDUSTRY LEADERS ENCOURAGE SENATE TO RELIEVE FARM WORKER SHORTAGE

Posted: October 25th, 2007 4:32 PM

[Wilsonville] The Oregon Association of Nurseries lauded the words of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who this week committed that the Senate would allow a vote on the AgJOBS legislation. AgJOBS is likely to be offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein and may be offered as an amendment during Senate floor consideration of the 2007 Farm Bill.

"The labor shortage that now threatens Oregon farmers will only get worse unless the Senate passes the AgJOBS Bill." said John Aguirre, Executive Director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN). "Given the Senate's failure to pass a comprehensive immigration bill last August, it makes sense to pass a more focused bill now."

Senators Reid and Harkin have indicated that the full Senate may take up the Farm Bill as early as next Tuesday (October 30). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has stated his support for making AgJOBS part of the Farm Bill. The OAN joined The Oregon Wine Growers and the Oregon Farm Bureau this week in encouraging Oregon's Senator Smith and Senator Wyden to support this important piece of legislation. Both have indicated they will support and Oregon agriculture is grateful for their steadfast commitment to try and relieve the agricultural labor shortage.

AgJOBS is a long-term labor solution. It builds upon years of discussion and cooperation among growers, farm worker advocates, Latino and immigration issue groups, all seeking to provide a more stable, secure, safe and legal agricultural work force and a safe food supply.

If passed, AgJOBS would provide an effective agricultural guest-worker program by reforming the broken and cumbersome H-2A program. The bill would provide trained, trusted and experienced immigrant farm workers, who lack proper work authorization, the opportunity to earn legal status if they meet strict conditions including years of future agricultural work and an unblemished record.

Bob Terry, OAN president and owner of Fisher Farms said, "If Congress doesn't pass this bill, then much of the Willamette Valley's agricultural production won't remain viable and Oregonians may face the reality of parking lots and convenience stores where farms once operated."

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The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,600 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon's ornamental horticulture industry is the state's largest agricultural commodity, with annual sales of more than $966 million. For information visit our web site at www.oan.org or call 503-682-5089.

Contact Info: Elizabeth Peters Director of Communications and Publications Oregon Association of Nurseries www.oan.org 503-582-2010 (direct) 503-250-2235 (cel) epeters@oan.org

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