Growers Urge Capps on Farm in Congress

Keith Carls, KCOY Central Coast News Reporter, KeithCarls@kcoy.com
POSTED: 10:18 PM PST Dec 20, 2013    UPDATED: 04:45 PM PST Dec 21, 2013 
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SANTA MARIA, Calif. -

Central coast farmers are urging local Congresswoman Lois Capps to support a new Farm Bill they say will will help them stay ahead of global competition.

Farmers are also seeking comprehensive immigration reform to deal with a growing labor shortage.

Lois Capps met with a prominent, family-owned strawberry and broccoli grower in the Santa Maria Valley on Friday morning.

Capps was given a tour of Main Street Produce where the Allen Family and employees grow, harvest, pack, cool and ship strawberries and broccoli around the country and around the world.

News before taking the tour, "we want this to be good for our economy as well as good for our bodies."

Capps says she's been getting an earful from her constituents in Central Coast agriculture about the absolute need to get a new Farm Bill passed and get comprehensive immigration reform.

"There certainly is a labor shortage and that's one of things we are really struggling with", says Alexandra Allen of Main Street Produce, "in order to ensure that agriculture remains a viable boom to this area, we have to know we have a stable workforce."

"We need to change our legal structure so that these people can be here legally", Allen says, "that they can know that they can raise their children here and that they will be able to stay here and become productive citizens as so many of them are doing."

"A path to citizenship", Capps says about her vision of immigration reform, "protecting our borders, giving an opportunity for those many millions really who are living here."

Capps says passing a new Farm Bill is also vital for the future of Central Coast agriculture.

"These constituents want me to get that bill done", Capps says, "get it done in a comprehensive way to ensure that they have continued research in pesticide, pest control, in better more efficient ways to grow food."

Key Congressional negotiators are hopeful a new Farm Bill can be voted on by the full House and Senate before the end of the January.