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April 8, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Western Growers Condemns Alleged Arson of Migrant Farmworker Housing

IRVINE, Calif. (April 7, 2016) – Statement by Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif condemning the alleged arson of a migrant farmworker housing project on Mads Place in Nipomo, Calif., the evening of April 6th.

“These family farmers are trying to do things the right way. They are going through the proper (and extremely bureaucratic and expensive) channels to secure an adequate supply of labor for their fields. They had no choice but to turn to the federal H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, after demonstrating that there are not enough U.S. workers who are willing, qualified, and available to do the seasonal agricultural work. They are abiding by all local, state and federal housing and transportation requirements. They have vowed to minimize their impact on neighbors and protect the safety of their workers.

It is unconscionable that the principled and lawful actions of this company have been met by an act of criminal violence. The actions of those responsible should be condemned by all and must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The underlying issue in this situation is the lack of farmworker housing in California and the legislative and regulatory barriers that block farmers from building and operating worker housing on their own land. 

More broadly, policymakers must work to make the H-2A program more workable for both farmers and the communities in which they operate. Like it or not, foreign workers are needed to harvest our fruits and vegetables.  If our intention is to preserve the diverse farming heritage of California, we must reform the H-2A program while pursuing broader comprehensive immigration reform.”

About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California and Colorado. Our members and their workers provide half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. For generations we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.