Immigrants, refugees, and migrant and seasonal farm workers are a critical part of America’s rural communities, and are invaluable for a host of reasons including, but not limited to their contributions to the productivity and cultural diversity of the United States.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is a diverse coalition of farmer and community based organizations. Many of our member organizations work alongside immigrant, refugee, and migrant farmer and farmworker communities to advance the sustainability of farming operations, rural communities, and the land. NSAC’s racial equity statement and agriculture immigration reform principles and proposal form the basis of our approach to agriculture and immigration issues, issues that are increasingly impacting our members, partner organizations and the farmers and communities we serve collectively.
NSAC stands with immigrant, refugee, and migrant communities in a joint effort to realize a safe, vibrant, and respectful United States, including a just immigration system. We cannot have sustainability in agriculture and rural communities without ensuring that the health, safety, and basic needs of all are met. Along with sustainable use of natural resources, sustainable agriculture also includes economic viability, vibrant rural communities, and high quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and farm workers. To achieve these goals we need safe communities, an adequate workforce, and a culture of respect, all of which are being threatened by caustic, hateful, and hurtful rhetoric aimed at immigrants, refugees, and migrants.
While immigrants and migrant workers make up only a small portion of the general population, our agriculture, food system, and rural economy could not function without them. Immigrants and migrant farmers and workers contribute to the sustainability of American rural communities by farming, working in the agricultural supply chain, and operating businesses in local communities.
The stories we have heard about migrant workers being arrested at courthouses and avoiding travel out of fear of harassment, detainment, deportation, and fear for personal safety because they have lost trust in the authorities, have reverberating impacts across rural America.
If the United States continues down this path, it will degrade our rural towns by making them less safe and inviting, and will threaten our ability to feed ourselves domestically and sustainably. Migrants, refugees, and immigrants in many states have helped reverse rural population loss, increased cultural awareness, and contributed greatly to local economies, all of which helps to increase the health and sustainability of these communities.
NSAC stands ready with our members, allies, and partners to do everything in our power to forge a sustainable agricultural movement based on justice and equity, one that seeks to ensure that rural communities thrive by ensuring economically viable family farms and fair wages and safety for the people who work on them.