U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says there are many economic benefits of common-sense immigration reform for New York.
Vilsack, who hosted a media conference call Wednesday, says the numbers are a cause for national concern. Maureen Torrey, former chair of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, is an 11th generation farmer in western New York.
Secretary Vilsack thinks immigration reform — currently held up in the House of Representatives, which is still away for the summer recess — will put a positive spin on New York's agriculture sector and rural communities. He says it's all about jobs and farm income.
The White House recently released a report outlining the worker shortage faced by agriculture today, projecting that the elimination of immigrant labor in New York could trigger short-term production losses between 99 and nearly 179 million dollars - a significant chunk of the state's 4-point-4 billion dollar agricultural industry.
Secretary Vilsack, who favors passage of a five-year Farm Bill, notes that any immigration fix must focus on a variety of issues. Vilsack contends that fixing the immigration system would spark New York's economy.