Senate Joint Memorial 101—a bill which states the Federal Government has failed to meet its responsibility to both secure our nation’s borders and to provide for a guest worker Visa program that meets the labor demands of domestic businesses—has passed the Senate in a vote of 25 — 10.

I’ve spent a lifetime living and working in agriculture. I grew up as a third generation Jerome County farmer and dairy farmer, and I have two sons who are continuing to make their careers in the Magic Valley agriculture industry. There have been many changes and advances in agriculture practices since my early days as a boy baling hay and planting beans with my grandpa. Over the course of my lifetime I have seen the need for the guest worker programs provided by the federal government, and an overhaul to that system is needed in order for it to meet the current needs of our agricultural businesses. A University of Idaho study released in 2019 stated at that time that 48% of the Magic Valley’s economy was directly based on ag industries. Because an adequate labor supply is a critical need in our rural and agriculture based district, I have signed on as a co-sponsor to this legislation.

All businesses, whether they are agriculturally-based or not, are influenced by supply and demand, economic opportunities domestically and internationally, and by an available infrastructure to provide their goods and services to the consumers. Employees are the heart of any business and a lack of workers cuts deep into the productivity of our businesses. Currently, we are enjoying the lowest unemployment rate in recent memory. While this is a good thing to have so many people employed, the lack of available workers finds businesses fighting over the same limited pool of potential employees. Reform is needed! If we, as a nation, can address an available workforce we will reduce competition for employees and in turn reduce inflation. All of this leads to a healthy and stable economy. To this end, I am supporting SJM 101. The Federal government must provide through meaningful immigration reform a means to increase our pool of qualified workers. It is time for an updated Federal guest worker Visa program that meets the needs of businesses and industries.

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