U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has released a report that cites the need for immigration reform to benefit agriculture. Vilsack praised the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill and said it is now up to the House to pass a comprehensive measure or series of bills that would equate to comprehensive legislation. If the immigration system is not reformed – Vilsack said there will be reductions in agricultural production that will put the nation’s food security at risk over time. He also noted the broad coalition backing immigration reform – and said there is no excuse not to get it done.
The report – titled Fixing Our Immigration System: Benefits to Agriculture and Rural Communities – is available on the White House and USDA websites. According to Vilsack – the report includes a chart that highlights the impact of immigration reform in each of the 50 states. It states that the agriculture sector has seen strong growth in recent years – with farm income and ag exports both reaching historic highs – but that the agriculture industry is hampered by a broken immigration system that fails to support a predictable and stable workforce.
As for the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill – the report notes the measure would strengthen border security while providing an earned path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers who are vital to the nation’s agriculture industry and a new temporary worker program negotiated by major grower associations and farmworker groups. According to the report – if enacted – the Senate bill would result in undocumented workers paying a fine, their full share of taxes and is estimated to allow an estimated 1.5-million agricultural workers and their dependents to earn legal status.
News Source: NAFB News Service