Donald Trump could be alienating the farming community in the 2016 presidential election as a result of his stance against illegal immigration. Seasonal workers from outside of the United States are vital to US farmers; however, Trump has declared that he wants many of the undocumented immigrants who make up the farming workforce in the country’s south to be deported.
Among the main principles of Trump’s immigration reform policy is building a wall across the United States’ southern border with Mexico to prevent the influx of undocumented immigrants; however, American farmers claim that native-born workers are not willing to do the physically-strenuous farm jobs that such immigrants currently perform. The National Council of Farm Co-Operatives president, Chuck Conner, says that 60% of the agricultural labor force in the United States consists of undocumented immigrants, with around 1.4 million working on American farms every year.
In 2014 a study released by the American Farm Bureau Federation revealed that if Congress passed an enforcement-only immigration bill, fruit production within the United States would fall by as much as 61%, the average farm income would fall by as much as 30% and the price of fruit in supermarkets would increase by 6% ‒ all due to a lack of labor.
“My farm would shut down today if you removed my workforce,” says farmer Frank Muller, who believes that Trump’s policies would pose a serious threat to farmers. “You hear all these disparaging remarks about immigrants, but these guys are the hardest-working, most dedicated people I’ve ever seen in my life.”