Last week’s dust-up between U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and the Alabama Farmers Federation is still having ripple effects throughout Alabama’s political landscape.
Shortly after FarmPAC, the Alabama Farmers Federation’s (ALFA) political arm, announced its slate of endorsements, which included former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt for U.S. Senate, Brooks had a very critical response about ALFA.
“They want cheap foreign labor crossing our borders,” Brooks said on FM Talk 106.5’s “Midday Mobile” last week. “And so they have got a lot of money, and they try to elect candidates. They try to ensure that their candidates for open borders get elected. So you have them, on the one hand, coupled by the socialist Democrats who seek political power. They think the best way to ensure power is to import people.”
Brooks continued that line of reasoning in subsequent interviews as some of the state’s political heavy-hitters came out in defense of ALFA.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” ALFA national affairs director Mitt Walker disputed some of the claims made by Brooks.
“First off, I want to say we did not look to engage in this war of words with Congressman Brooks,” Walker said. “We simply made known the endorsement that was brought forth by our grassroots leaders. And unfortunately, we’re in the position now of having to defend our position. We have a responsibility, Jeff, to defend our farm families when misinformation is put out there. So, happy to talk with you about our positions on that.”
Walker said his organization supports a “secure border” but also acknowledged there were labor considerations that should be weighed when it comes to the organization’s position on immigration.
“First off — I want to hit this head-on, is we are absolutely for a secure border,” he explained. “We are a part of the American Farm Bureau Federations umbrella, so a lot of people may not understand our structure here. But we have country federations that kind of come together under our state umbrella, and then we’re also under the American Farm Bureau Federation. But what’s really neat about that policy, Jeff, is every policy in our policy book and the American Farm Bureau Federation policy book starts with an individual farmer somewhere bringing a concern in front of his local federation, and then ultimately as adopted or not adopted by the state or the national organization. But we are absolutely on the record as being in support of a secure southern border. In fact, a lot of the needs we have from an immigration or ag labor standpoint — it’s going to be hard to address those until we get a hold on what’s happening on the southern border.”
“As you look at where we’re at, our policies on the broader issue — a lot of times, people are mixing two different issues into one,” Walker continued. “I think you’ve got to make a distinction between anybody’s position on the southern border and immigration and what we typically advocate for, which are guest worker programs that allow for individuals from foreign countries to come to our country and work for a limited amount of time on a specific farm to help get the job done that frankly, that local labor is just not showing up to do any longer.”
According to Walker, farmers were no longer getting labor from students out of school for the summer and added that policies out of Washington, D.C. were not helping the problem, as well.
“There is a move, frankly, to disincentivize people from wanting to go to work,” he added. “We’re kind of in a tough spot. Would we love for our farmers to hire local labor? Absolutely.”
Walker also pushed back against the accusation his organization was for “cheap labor” by claiming the average farm wage was higher than minimum wage.
“A lot of the things that have been put out over the last few days, Jeff, are not exactly right,” Walker said. “I think they’ve mischaracterized our position on a number of fronts.”
Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.