Immigration reform included in farm bill

US flagThe economy of the United States will better improve if the new farm bill, that includes within it immigration reform, is passed by Congress, Obama administration members have reminded those in Congress in the midst of the August recess.

“The sad reality today is that American agriculture is not growing as much, or harvesting as much, as it could – which will limit, over time, farm income as well as jobs connected to exports,” the News Tribune was told by US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak in an interview that was conducted last week.  Vilsak said that the farm bill effectively sets the US policy for the next five years and offers a great degree of certainty to producers.

Immigration reform is included in the Senate version of the new bill that “guarantees that there’s going to be a labor force adequate enough to harvest and process whatever it is we are capable of growing”, according to Vilsak.  However, the version of the bill that has been passed by the House of Representatives does not include immigration reform and has also taken away the long-standing food stamp program.

Vilsak, who is a former governor of Iowa, does not approve of the decision to remove food stamp assistance from the bill.  “We think the historic relationship between nutrition advocates and farm advocates needs to be maintained,” he said, adding that there are increasingly fewer people who are representing areas that are primarily rural in nature.