Good Fruit Grower

April 1

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An urgent plea for IMMIGRATION REFORM Cheryl and Ralph Broetje says it���s time for growers to stand up for workers. The solution will come from both honoring laws and respecting rights. by O. Casey Corr evout Christians will tell you God works in mysterious ways. So, perhaps it was divine intervention that two teenagers from the Yakima Valley in Washington State happened to appear in court on the same day, the same hour, to handle traffic tickets. Cheryl Shelton was there for driving too fast in her parents��� Ford wagon. Ralph Broetje was there for driving his red Corvette too slow. That first meeting between Ralph and Cheryl led to profound changes, for themselves and for countless others. The couple married in 1967 and with Ralph inspired by a dream of owning an orchard to help people, the young Broetjes borrowed to make a down payment on a cherry orchard. They stumbled. A freeze destroyed the first crop. Rain the second. And insects the third. But Ralph and Cheryl persisted, and in time thrived spectacularly. Today, the couple owns and operates one of the largest privately owned apple orchards in the United States with more than 6,000 acres of apples. Based in Prescott, Washington, Broetje Orchards owns more than 11 million square feet of controlled atmosphere and cold storage space and two packing lines. The company employs 1,100 people year round and another 1,000 workers during the fall harvest. ���This is one issue where there is broad consensus for change.��� ���Rich Stolz Message It���s a stunning story of business acumen. But that���s not the story Cheryl Broetje came to share when she spoke in February to the annual meeting of the Washington Growers League in Yakima. Though her personality seems gentle and she laughs readily from enjoyment of people and life in general, Cheryl brought a forceful message. Broetje Orchards and other farms had prospered because Latino workers had stood with the growers. Now, she said, it was time for growers to stand with the workers. 16 April 1, 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Snack time at Broetje Orchards���s daycare for workers��� children. Broetje was urging growers to capitalize on what appeared to be a groundswell of interest in a rewrite of U.S. immigration laws, one that could not only address the critical labor issue that affects farmers but also address what she regarded as a fundamental test of our values as a nation. Broetje said a solution to the immigration issue will emerge when people stop seeing the problem as a choice between law or human rights. The nation needs to see the solution as emerging from both honoring law and respecting rights. They are not contradictory, she said. Broetje is a powerful advocate because her family���s business success derives directly from policies shaped by faith. ���Our business goals are not separated from our spiritual values,��� the family declares on the company Web site. ���Broetje Orchards is committed to caring for those who work in our business and for those in need in communities around the world.���

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