In a recent appearance in Des Moines, Iowa, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack continued to stress the importance of passing serious immigration reform in order to maintain a healthy farm sector.
For the past several years, immigration policy has been driven by two competing camps. In the farm sector, producers have been pushing for a major relaxation of federal immigration policy. In particular, they have pushed for reformed work visa programs that make it easier for non-citizens to work in the United States.
On the other side, anti-immigration activists have been successful in passing a series of restrictive laws in several states designed to curb the influx of undocumented workers. These laws have been successful in driving away illegal workers, but have also shrunk labor pools and eaten into farmers’ profits.
In his recent talk, Vilsack pointed out that many farmers cannot afford tough new immigration laws. “Agriculture depends to a great extent on immigrant labor,” Vilsack said. “The sad reality in America today is that there are farmers throughout the United States who are now making decisions not to harvest what they planted because they simply do not have enough hands to conduct the harvest.”
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