PCG Adds Voice To Immigration Debate;
Signs Letter Outlining Basic Principles For Reform

Friday,September 15,2006                     By Shawn Wade

     Immigration has always been an issue important to agriculture businesses andproducers in Texas. Unfortunately, Congress's recent efforts on immigrationreform have evolved into a debate with no clear middle ground or direction,despite the fact that both the House of Representatives and the Senate haveapproved reform legislation.

     For farmers and business owners who rely on a largely non-U.S. workforce foremployees, it is critical that the current immigration debate strikes the rightbalance between allowing legal access to a properly documented and willingworkforce, and bolstering needed border security measures to eliminate illegalentry into the U.S. by undocumented individuals that may or may not havefinding a job at the top of their priority list.

     Plains Cotton Growers shares the concerns of the agriculture industry regardingforeign workers and the important role they fill in the harvest and processingof our nation's agricultural bounty. As part of its effort to be involved inthe immigration debate, PCG has signed on a letter mailed to members of theTexas Congressional delegation from Texas commodity and industry groupsaddressing the issue.

     One of the main thrusts of the letter was to urge Congressional leaders toappoint and convene a Conference Committee as soon as possible withinstructions to find the common ground within the two bills as soon aspossible.

     In addition to PCG, the letter was signed by an additional 23 Texas commodityand agriculture industry groups, who agreed on a set of basic principles thatneed to be adhered to in an immigration reform package.

     Reform principles highlighted by the group included the need for effectiveborder security; support for a viable guest worker program to provide temporaryworkers for agriculture's employment needs; support for a program that allowscertain undocumented workers to transition to legal status; and, the need toaddress the entire scope of the immigration reform question within a singlepiece of legislation.

     Regarding improved border security, the group says that Congress needs to passborder security reforms as part of a comprehensive immigration bill and notaddress the issue in a piece-meal fashion that has border security in one pieceof legislation and only a promise that the additional reforms needed wouldeventually get passed.

     The group states, "Comprehensive reform, including reasonable penalties foremployers who knowingly hire illegal workers, and a tamper-proof personalidentification card, will enhance border security, not detract from it."

     The importance of a viable guest worker program to provide both seasonaltemporary workers and workers for longer-term agriculture related jobs, wasalso highlighted. The group noted that a viable day crossing program wasimportant, especially for employers within 100 miles of the Mexican border, andthat a longer-term option should be available to help employers find willingworkers to fill longer-term jobs as well.

     In regard to transitioning certain, currently undocumented workers to legalstatus, the group noted that the program should not be allowed to jumpundocumented workers ahead of any person legally working their way towardobtaining U.S. citizenship.

     They also addressed the need for undocumented workers to meet a set of minimumrequirements before being able to transition to legal status. Specificrecommendations for the conditions that undocumented individuals be required tomeet included: clearance through a criminal background check; learn to speakEnglish; and payment of restitution for illegally entering the U.S. orknowingly overstaying their previously obtained visa.

     Immigration issues have been a top priority for Texas agriculture for decadesand it is imperative that a set of solutions be developed that address theissue comprehensively and not in the uncoordinated ways of the past which havehelped create many of the problems that exist today.

     Texas agriculture depends on the availability of "a stable, qualified andwilling workforce" to remain viable as an industry. It is clear that a significantfactor in maintaining the availability of such a workforce is to enact acomprehensive immigration reform package that creates a framework capable ofproviding such a workers in the future.

 

WTACI Holds 54th Annual Meeting;
Features Comments From Senator Todd Staples

Friday,September 15,2006                     By Shawn Wade

     Members of the West Texas Agricultural Chemicals Institute gathered for theorganization's 54th Annual Meeting, on September 13 at the Reese TechnologyCenter in Lubbock. The meting, which features presentations and educationalopportunities for High Plains farmers and crop consultants, addressed keyinsect, weed and disease management and control issues facing the regions majoragricultural crops.

     Adding to the program, Texas State Senator Todd Staples of Palestine, Texas, acandidate in the race for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, provided histhoughts on a number of issues facing Texas agriculture and his plans toaddress them. Staples currently serves as a member of the Senate NaturalResources Committee, which has jurisdiction over agriculture issues in theTexas Senate.

     Staples, considered the front-runner in the Ag Commissioners race, stayed inthe Lubbock area and participated in a successful fund-raising event hosted atthe home of Dan and Linda Taylor near Ropesville.

     Topics covered during the WTACI meeting included: Weed Seedling Identificationand Herbicide Drift Damage Identification; Chemigation and Water ManagementUtilizing Drop Irrigation; "Secondary" Pest Problems related to Bt Cotton; areport on performance of the Roundup Ready FLEX system; cotton and peanutdisease concerns; nutrient usage in cotton and water use efficiency; and, driftminimization utilizing center pivot irrigation systems.

      This year's WTACI presentersincluded Dr. Randy Boman, Extension Agronomist, Texas Cooperative Extension;Dr. Peter Dotray, Weed Scientist, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, TCEand Texas Tech University; Dr. Terry Wheeler, Plant Pathologist, TAES; Dr. TomFuchs, Extension Entomologist and Statewide IPM Coordinator, TCE; Dr. CalvinTrostle, Extension Agronomist, TCE; Dr. Leon New, Extension AgriculturalEngineer-Irrigation, TCE; Brian Frerich, President, Eco-Drip; Rusty Houston,Owner, Diversified Subsurface Irrigation; and Mike Stewart, Southern andCentral Great Plains Director, Potash and Phosphate Institute.

 

 

High Plains Event Calendar

     The table below contains a partial listing of the events already scheduled.Growers interested in attending any of the Texas Cooperative Extension eventsshould contact the appropriate TCE County office to request additional details.

      For more informationabout the industry Field Days listed below contact your local salesrepresentative or dealer. Additional details will be included in "Cotton News"as they become available.

2006 Extension Crop Tours &
Cotton Industry Event Schedule

Event:

Date:

Floyd County Crop Tour

September 19

Mitchell County Ag Tour

September 21

Crosby County Crop Tour

September 29

Deltapine Field Day - RECHEDULED

September 19

FiberMax Field Day

September 21

Stoneville/Monsanto Field Day

September 26

All-Tex Field Day / Fish Fry

 

September 27,

10:00 AM, Levelland Delinting

Americot Field Day

October 4