Editor’s note: A previous version of this story contained incorrect information about Lyndsi Oestmann’s organization membership. She belongs to AmericanHort, and the story has been corrected. We apologize for the error.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A coalition of agriculture groups says a shortage of workers on Kansas and Missouri farms is making food harder to find and more expensive for everyone.
Agriculture leaders are pushing for legislation to make it easier for immigrants to work on farms legally.
A Kansas agriculture assessment conducted this year shows more than half of the farm jobs in the Sunflower State are going unfilled.
At Loma Vista Nursery in Ottawa, Kansas, Lyndsi Oestmann said she has acres of land left unplanted because she simply can’t find enough workers.
She’s a member of AmericanHort, one of several agriculture groups seeking passage of a U.S. Senate bill that would help solve agriculture labor shortages by making it easier for farms to bring in immigrant labor with temporary agriculture worker visas.
“It’s urgent that we get that passed so that farmers like me and other farmers in Kansas can get the labor that we need,” Oestmann said. “So we don’t have to worry day-to-day and week-to-week if we are going to have enough labor to get the job done that we need to get done.”
A study from Texas A&M University says bolstering the farm workforce will help curb inflation and rising consumer prices for food.
Some Kansas dairy farmers are even calling for permanent legal immigration, with a potential path to citizenship for immigrant farm workers who make their families part of rural communities year round.
“We have a lot of Hispanic workers that work at our dairy now,” Lee Holtmeier, Linn Willow Creek Dairy owner, said. “They are very influential in our schools and our town and our churches. And they are very community minded, we just love having them.”
Food security is becoming a more important concern because according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, next year, for the first time in American history, our nation will import more farm products than we export.
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