The study, which the biggest farm lobby organization in the United States, the American Farm Bureau, was responsible for commissioning, suggests that the price of food would rise by a further 5% to 6% over the course of the next five years if such enforcement policies were introduced, due to the lack of workers available to harvest crops, and would see the agriculture sector lose around $60 billion in the same time period. The study arrives while President Obama and Congress continue to debate proposals for overhauling the nation’s immigration policies to address the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States.
Leaders in the Republican Party have put forward a very modest proposal for immigration reform but many conservatives in Congress and Tea Party members are against any plan that gives “amnesty” for people who are living in the United States illegally, causing House Speaker John Boehner to doubt the likelihood of reform being achieved this year.
The report says that fruit production would be the hardest hit domestic food sector with any enforcement-only reform, likely to fall by as much as 31% – with a 15% to 31% fall also possible for vegetable production. These are the most labor intensive sectors due to the need for the crops to be picked by hand.