Despite national media reports that immigration and foreign trade policies from the Trump administration are hurting who they're meant to help —U.S. farmers — there's no smoking gun southeastern Colorado farmers are sharing that experience.
For instance, some say that Trump’s tough-on-immigration policy is making it difficult for farmers to hire H2A-visa workers to tend their fields. That doesn’t seem to be the case, at least in southeastern Colorado.
Marilyn Bay Drake, executive director of the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, said that the ongoing H2A worker issues have existed well before Trump took office. Among the problems farmers face, she said, lies with E-Verify — the internet-based system that is used by growers to determine whether foreign workers are eligible to work in the U.S.
Bay Drake said E-Verify must undergo significant changes or even be abolished altogether because far too often growers have to turn down potential farm workers because their names do not appear on E-Verify rolls.
Sakata Farms, located near Brighton, left the sweet corn business last year, mostly because it was not able to get a dependable work crew for its six-week season, Bay Drake said. The family operation has grown sweet corn for over half a century.
“They were a big grower,” Bay Drake said. “The annual maintenance cost of their packing house alone was about ($333,000) – so a huge hit to the local community.”