WASHINGTON – Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, testified on behalf of the Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition, a broad coalition of food manufacturers, about industry's vision for progressive immigration reform. Brown spoke at US House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hearing Feb. 26.

"To date, much of the discussion has focused on the need to retain highly skilled workers such as scientists and engineers, and the need for additional temporary agricultural workers," Brown said. "These are important objectives, but they do not meet the needs of our industry sector. We are manufacturers, wanting a stable and permanent workforce that can help sustain the rural communities where we do business."

Brown outlined five major themes for immigration reform:

• border security;
• improvements to the E-verify system as an alternative to a national identity card;
• clarity in anti-discrimination laws;
• an occupational visa category; and
• options to effectively address undocumented workers in the US.

"Some think there is an economic incentive for manufacturing employers to hire illegal immigrants at below-market wages," Brown said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Our industry needs a stable workforce. We seek workers who will stay on the job long enough to become skilled and efficient, helping us to keep our food products and employees safe."

A copy of the full testimony including the coalition's complete framework of immigration reform concepts is available online.

The Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition includes the National Chicken Council; National Turkey Federation; US Poultry & Egg Association; North American Meat Association; American Meat Institute; California Poultry Federation; Georgia Poultry Federation; The Poultry Federation (Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma); Virginia Poultry Federation.