New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spent last week touring her state in the wake of Hurricane Irene. During her tour, Gillibrand gave a series of public talks and statements regarding the future of agriculture in the United States and addressing the 2012 Farm Bill. Gillibrand has been at the forefront of agricultural reform in New York State and in the U.S. as a whole.
One of the more important parts of Gillibrand’s tour was her discussion of federal agricultural policy, specifically immigration reform. According to Gillibrand, the failure of Congress to address immigration reform in a way that can aid agricultural production could damage America’s ability to grow enough food, forcing us to rely on imports from abroad. In a sense, Gillibrand argued, this failure represents a potential threat to national security.
Gillibrand’s fears are not completely off base. Recent immigration laws in Georgia and Alabama have severely hurt those state’s agricultural sectors and have cost them millions of dollars in lost revenue. Gillibrand has backed legislation that would loosen restrictions on the guest worker program, but has complained that Congress has instead sought to make it more difficult for foreign workers to enter the United States.
In addition to discussing farm policy, Gillibrand and her colleague Chuck Schumer toured regions hit by Hurricane Irene. The full extent of the damage caused by Irene has yet to be totaled, but the estimates so far are extensive. Gillibrand urged the Department of Agriculture to declare a state of disaster as quickly as possible to ensure that New York farmers can make ready use of disaster funds.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer