(May 16) Washington, D.C. — Produce industry leaders and two members of Congress made a strong case for immediate action on AgJobs legislation on May 15. Close to 200 specialty crop industry leaders are lobbying members of Congress May 16 on immigration legislation.

Industry speakers at the May 15 news conference included Tom Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.; Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers, Irvine, Calif.; Maureen Marshall, vice president of Torrey Farms, Inc., Elba, N.Y.; Phil Glaize, partner in Fred L. Glaize L.C., Winchester, Va.; Ella Vasquez, a strawberry grower in Watsonville, Calif; and Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, Yakima, Wash.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said May 16 is “D Day” for immigration reform in the senate. The Senate is expected to take up the issue, but there is no comprehensive bipartisan solution in hand.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Feinstein noted the broad support of AgJOBS, with some 880 organizations supporting the legislation. The consequences are dire if Congress can’t deliver a labor solution to agriculture, she said.

"What happens if you can’t harvest? Prices will soar and people won’t pay their mortgages and farmers will be going out of business," she said.

"Senator Craig and I remain steadfast that this bill, negotiated over a ten-year period, should go forward as written, and I’m very hopeful it will be."