In an effort to better understand Arizona border issues, American Agri-Women (AAW) heard from several speakers on the topic at its annual agricultural policy review meeting held recently in Phoenix.
Sue Krentz, wife of rancher Rob Krentz who was murdered by an illegal alien as he checked cattle on his southern Arizona ranch in March 2010, and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, just back from testifying before a Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C., spoke about the hardships they face because of the "porous" border.
Barbara Jackson, current vice president of American National CattleWomen from Tucson, Ariz., described ANCW's new "animal well being" educational program and suggested that people check the internet and go to RestoreOurBorder.org to learn what the Arizona Cattlemen's Association recommend on improving the border situation.
Anna Marie Knorr, representing Western Growers Association, echoed previous speakers but emphasized that it is imperative for farmers, ranchers and growers to have access to legal foreign workers through new legislation.
AAW President Chris Wilson, Manhattan, Kan., explained that the border issue was only one of many issues discussed at the meeting.
The meeting was comprised of 58 women from 20 states who updated last year's legislative positions in preparation for their annual trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional leaders in June.
"Since its beginning in 1974 American Agri-Women has strived to obtain a legal workforce so that we can continue to harvest perishable crops and enable dairies and cattle operations to produce food for our citizens, " Wilson said. "Without a change in our country's immigration policy we will lose the ability to feed our own people, much less the world, and we will depend on foreign sources of food which may not have our high quality standards or inspection requirements.
"In addition to ag jobs and securing the border," Wilson continued, "we also put at the top of our priority list overregulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and loss of private property rights. There are two particular concerns we have as detailed by our speaker, Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney from Cheyenne, Wyo. Budd-Falen discussed the Open Equal Access to Justice Act, which was first introduced in Congress last year and urges members of Congress to require an accounting of how much money is paid out by the federal government to environmental groups who sue government agencies."
Budd-Falen also pointed out the possible danger of losing grazing rights when Bureau of Land Management acres are designated as "Wild Lands." This change is being supported by the present administration.
A dozen Arizona women leaders in agriculture were guests of honor at an AAW reception held in anticipation of a new state affiliate being organized there. Groups represented included the Cowgirls Historical Foundation, Arizona CowBelles and Arizona Farm Bureau.
For more information on American Agri-Women and the upcoming June 12 - 15, Washington, D.C., Legislative Fly-In visit AmericanAgriWomen.org.