YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - Washington farmers are hoping they have enough workers to harvest crops this year, as Congress prepares to debate immigration reform this summer.
Fruit growers scrambled for pickers last fall during a record harvest. Washington's Employment Security Department says growers reported a nearly 9 percent labor shortage in September 2012 for seasonal workers.
That's the highest mark in the past six years.
Agriculture leaders joined several immigrants at a forum Thursday with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray to stress the importance of immigration reform.
A bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate would create a path to citizenship for millions of people who entered the country illegally, improve access for work visas and spend billions of dollars to secure the border.
Murray says the Senate expects to take up the bill in June.
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