Sakata Takes Colorado Grower Concerns to Washington, D.C.
Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) President Robert Sakata, Sakata Farms, Brighton, Colo., returned yesterday from a three-day visit to the nation’s capital where he Joined Western Growers members in talking to members of Congress and the Trump administration about the challenges facing Colorado produce growers.
“The main thing we addressed in Washington is the labor crisis,” said Sakata. “We called on members of Congress to support immigration reform and enact a guest worker program.
According to Sakata, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013, but it never came to the floor for debate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Other topics addressed during the congressional meetings included water infrastructure, tax reform, international trade, Endangered Species Act reform and the 2018 farm bill.
Sakata met with U.S. senators from Colorado Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and U.S. representatives from Colorado Ken Buck and Mike Coffman. He also met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Special Assist to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance Ray Starling.
“While this is an extremely difficult time for growers to be away from their operations, it was very important to bring critical issues before our national leadership, particularly given the new administration,” said Sakata. “We were able to state our cases and believe we have been heard.”
Sakata further notes that legislative advocacy at the state and federal levels is a high priority for CFVGA members. “Through our association with Western Growers, Colorado growers are able to know about legislation and policies that will affect them and to have an advocate in Washington, D.C.”
The CFVGA continues to grow and is now comprised of more than 220 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $300 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 60,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.