The Tennessee Farm Bureau (TFB) is reputed to be the largest farm bureau in the country. Its mission statement is:
To develop, foster, promote and protect programs for the general welfare, including economic, social, educational and political well-being of farm people of the great state of Tennessee.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), is a non-profit organization with affiliate farm bureaus in all 50 states, including Tennessee. In 2016 the AFBF reported employing eighteen registered lobbyists. Among the services the AFBF provides is training new state farm bureau presidents.
In 2013, like the AFBF, the TFB issued a statement of support for the proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Congressional Budget Office concluded a category of “legalization” for illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
“The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation is proud to stand today beside our friends with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry and our fellow business families in support of S.744 the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. We believe this bipartisan immigration bill is a balanced reform bill, it includes fair and workable farm labor provisions, and it will help ensure an adequate supply of farm labor.
After Congress failed to pass the 2013 bill, the AFBF joined with the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE) in 2014, and released an ad pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. They planned to place the ad in Washington D.C. taxis, the Reagan National and Dulles International airports, movie theatres in 16 key congressional districts, rodeos and state fairs.
The AFBF which says it is the “national, unified voice of the nation’s farmers and ranchers,” admits that “[a]t least 50-70 percent of farm laborers in the country today are unauthorized.” And claims that “[f]ew U.S. workers are willing to fill available farm labor jobs.” And further that, “[t]he impacts of an enforcement only approach to immigration would be detrimental to the agricultural industry. If agriculture were to lose access to all undocumented workers, agricultural output would fall by $30 to $60 billion.”
After returning from the 2016 American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) training for new state presidents, Tennessee Farm Bureau (TFB) president Jeff Aiken, who works a 900 acre family farm in East Tennessee, said that “[L]legislation, regulation and bureaucracy” would be the focus during his tenure.
The TFB has been supporting the Gardenhire/White bills providing in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students since 2015 and in August 2016, Aiken representing the TFB joined with representatives from TIRRC, Conexion Americas, Associated Builders and Contractors of Tennessee, the TN Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Ming Wang and the Bakery Cos., in the PNAE sponsored National Day of Action to “showcase new research on the positive economic contributions of immigrants in Tennessee and to highlight the critical need for immigration reform.”
During a 2016 interview with Aiken, it was noted that TFB supports the efforts of Gardenhire and White because it’s, “an issue that affects many farmers personally” and that, “we firmly support the opportunity for anybody that wants an education to get an education.”
Soros-funded TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and Conexion Americas founder and director who serves as the Chairman of the National Council of La Raza and an anti-Trump Indivisible organizer, expressly acknowledged the TN Farm Bureau’s support of the in-state tuition bill.
Gardenhire’s bill was passed by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee; it has not been scheduled yet for a vote.
White’s bill passed the Education Subcommittee which he chairs and is scheduled for a vote in the full Education Administration & Planning Committee on Tuesday.