This week in the agriculture industry, we have seen everything from cyberattacks to concern over Biden’s 30 x 30 plan. However, the agriculture industry is also concerned about the situation along the southern U.S. border and the surge of undocumented immigrants.
The American Farm Bureau Federation joined all 50 state Farm Bureaus and Puerto Rico Farm Bureau in sending a letter today urging the Biden administration to address the surge of undocumented immigrants entering the United States. The increase in illegal immigration is severely impacting farm and ranch families, putting property and personal safety at risk. The letter was sent to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
“We have been listening to the concerns of our members and hearing how their livelihoods are being affected by the surge on the border,” the letter states. “They [farmers] shared how their crops and property are being damaged, which in turn has caused financial hardship. For example, these landowners are experiencing cut fences, destroyed crops, compromised water sources, vandalism, litter on their property and more. Most importantly, the security and safety of these families are at stake given the current circumstances.”
The letter points out that local and state border security resources have been exhausted, leaving little help for farmers and ranchers. It highlights the problem of human smugglers, known as Coyotes, explaining that landowners live in fear while Coyotes reap a windfall from leaving people destitute.
“Human smugglers [Coyotes] are making false promises and doing whatever it takes to get paid and get away, including jeopardizing lives and property,” the letter continues. “In their desperation to evade law enforcement, Coyotes abandon people, steal vehicles, vandalize property, and threaten the safety and livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. They are often criminals who smuggle drugs and firearms into the country, frequently leaving them on farmers’ and ranchers’ property, causing unrest for farm and ranch families.”
Since local resources have been exhausted, the letter asks the federal government to provide additional resources to secure the U.S. border.
Farm Bureau is not the only organization concerned about the situation at the border. Arthur G. Uhl III, first vice president, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association said in an op-ed, “Ranchers in South Texas are spending untold hours and thousands of dollars to repair fences mowed down by fleeing traffickers. These same groups regularly cut fences — instead of climbing over them — which also allow livestock to escape and force regular repairs.”
Uhl continued, “The unimaginable burdens placed on ranchers and property owners in South Texas are very real. Not only are these individuals robbed of their possessions, but also their security and peace of mind. Lives are at stake every day, and as the crisis continues to worsen, so will the peril for these residents.
Although federal help is still needed, Texas is trying to provide as many resources as they can. This week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration along Texas’ southern border in response to the border crisis, providing more resources and strategies to combat the surge of undocumented immigrants.