New Report Highlights Importance of Immigration Reform to Ag

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.

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