Posted May 16, 2014
 
Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and the White House continue their push for a vote on immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to an Agri-Pulse article available here.
 
Vilsack recently participated in a teleconference with Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers, and Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, to “discuss the potential economic impact of immigration reform in California.”
 
Vilsack said there are over 81,000 farms in California that sell about $33.9 billion in agricultural products annually.  “There’s no more important state to agriculture than California,” Vilsack said.  “Some farms are no longer able to harvest their product because of a lack of workforce.”  An audio clip of Vilsack’s comments is available here.
 
To get the bill moved to conference with the Senate-passed legislation, S. 744, the House would need to vote on any immigration bill.  The Senate bill would “allow undocumented farm workers to become eligible for an immigrant visa status called a “blue card.”  Blue-card holders “could apply for lawful permanent resident status after five years if they have continued to work in agriculture, paid their taxes, and pay a fine.”
 
Rodriquez and Canhu called out Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, representing the San Joaquin Valley, “on his lack of support so far for immigration reform,” according to an article by The Packer available here.  McCarthy is “majority whip for the House GOP, the third ranking Republican in the House, and is responsible for gathering support within the party for the legislation that will be voted on.”
 
Vilsack said the Senate immigration bill would increase California farm income by $500 million.  Vilsack also said that immigration reform would create job growth, boost Social Security revenue and reduce the national deficit, and called on House leaders to “get something passed” so the issues can be put to rest after the House and Senate bills are resolved in conference.

 

For more information on issues involving agricultural labor, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.