Throughout history, immigrants and refugees have left the political instability, lack of economic opportunity, poor governance or crime in their homeland in search of a better life in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic and weather-related disasters have exacerbated these factors in some countries, while also contributing to a widespread worker shortage in the United States. This has been especially true in the food and agriculture sector, which has historically employed legal migrant workers and legal immigrants to fill labor shortages that cannot be fulfilled by the domestic workforce alone.
The recent increase in illegal migration and domestic labor shortages have prompted a renewed focus on the need for an enhanced U.S. immigration policy.
Cargill is committed to treating all people with dignity and respect. Our values – do the right thing, put people first and reach higher – guide us in all aspects of our business, including the issue of immigration.
An improved immigration system would allow those with temporary legal status and undocumented workers living in the U.S. to gain legal worker status in a reasonable, transparent and humane way. Clearer, faster access to work visas would be especially beneficial to industries facing extreme labor shortages. Cargill takes immigration compliance seriously and will never knowingly hire an ineligible worker. That said, stronger employment eligibility screening tools would help to ensure employers are only hiring those who are able to legally work in the United States.
We recognize that immigrants and refugees not only diversify our workforce and bring unique skills, but can help fill job vacancies in critical positions like research and development, food production and agriculture. Legal immigration can help address critical labor shortages for the vital roles that keep our world fed, and contribute to a stronger economy and community prosperity.
We also believe the right thing to do is to create economic opportunities in food and agriculture around the world – especially in vulnerable regions. This supports our business, our communities, our people, the sector, and offers an alternative to those who may see illegal migration as their only path to safety and economic stability. In Central America, for example, we employ approximately 10,000 people at our 121 facilities. Across broader Latin America, we also invest in local communities through economic development, partnerships and philanthropy to help advance economic opportunity:
- We provide animal nutrition products and extension services to farmers and producers that increase or improve production.
- We provide knowledge, skills, and resources for farmers to diversify their incomes through the addition of animal production.
- We build capacity and strengthen business models of, and mobilize finance for, small and medium size enterprises to grow their businesses, diversify their sales, reactivate food service markets, and increase their incomes.
Immigration is a complex issue. We will continue advocating for an immigration policy that works while also addressing workforce shortages and bringing economic opportunities to vulnerable populations in the communities in which we operate.