The fresh-market tomato business is very labor intensive because every tomato we grow is picked by hand. This need for an abundant workforce is made even more complicated by the seasonal nature of agriculture, as more workers are needed during the harvest season.

The Florida tomato industry, like most agricultural industries in the U.S., has a predominantly immigrant workforce, and Florida’s tomato farmers increasingly rely on the H-2A agricultural guest worker program. As such, the Florida Tomato Exchange is highly engaged with policies related to immigration and the agricultural workforce.

First and foremost, the FTE believes all workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Farm workers, in particular, deserve respect given the importance of their job. Without workers to produce food in this country, we will become a nation dependent on imported food. It is with this elemental importance in mind that the FTE approaches immigration policy. Being able to produce food is a matter of national security.

The FTE advocates for policies that will ensure a legal and stable workforce for U.S. farmers. Whether it’s broad-based immigration reform, or constructive changes to guestworker programs, our elected leaders have been kicking the can down the road for far too long. Urgent action is needed.