Only a few farmers raised their hands. Then another said, "Only if it has a gate."
Immigration – and finding a way to address the shortage of agricultural labor – was one of several issues that arose during the event with US MEPs Peterson and Angie Craig Friday. Others included healthcare, trade, mental health and low commodity prices.
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John Jacobson of Pine Tree Apple Orchard at White Bear Lake, Minnesota, asked when the labor shortage and stalemate in Washington would be addressed because of immigration.
Jacobson said that even with an existing federal program that allows rural workers to come to the United States, he can not find workers.
"No one left in five years, nobody wants to do a job in the labor market," he said.
Both Peterson and Craig said they hope that the labor shortage can be eliminated, but complained that the issue had turned into political maneuvers. While both said they supported border security, they said they did not support the extensive southern boundary wall that President Trump has asked for.
Peterson called the policy "ridiculous" and said he did not know how to resolve it.
Health care was another topic. Some family farms had to rely on out-of-work jobs to get affordable health care, while others paid high premiums or stayed away.
Richard Callstrom, whose family housed the congregation, said he started farming in 1970. He worries about the health costs his sons face when they take over the family's milk and harvest operations.
"I was very happy, I've been paying my own health insurance all my life, and my wife has never had to work outside the farm to reassure us," he said. "That does not happen much anymore."