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Broken immigration system needs fixed.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman discussed the importance of dealing with the nation's broken immigration system in a recent online audio broadcast sponsored by AFBF's Newsline.

"Every time someone in America takes a bite of American food, someone has picked it, processed it, shipped it, stored it, trucked it, shelved it and many of these folks who have done all these tasks are immigrants," said Secretary Vilsack.

"I think consumers have such a disconnect now with modern Ag production. They think that fruits and vegetables come from the fruit and vegetable factory down the road and that's not the case," said AFBF President Stallman. "The factory is the farm. The farmer is the producer, but he needs workers to plant, to tend, to harvest that crop, to provide the high quality supply of fresh fruits and vegetables that our consumers have come to expect."

The leaders said that Congress should pass comprehensive immigration reform. Reform measures need to come to terms with the millions of immigrants in the United States who are working on farms and allowing producers to offer high quality, affordable food to American consumers. In addition, farmers and ranchers need to be confident that they will have the workforce they need to continue production.

Secretary Vilsack said we need "... a consistent set of rules that basically says to employers, you've got to play by the rules and if you're not, then you're part of the problem not part of the solutions. It says to workers who are undocumented that look, you've got to acknowledge that you are un-documented. You may have to pay a fine. You'll have to pay unpaid taxes. You've got to learn the language and if you do there's a pathway to legitimacy here that we want to create given the fact that our system has been broken for so long."

"We know that between five and nine billion dollars of production per year is dependent on our significant illegal workforce," said AFBF President Stallman. "So then you have to ask the question, if you don't have that labor here what happens to that production? Well that production, given food demand, is going to come from someplace and it will come from outside the borders of this country," he said.

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Vilsack and Stallman agree that now is the time to fix the nation's immigration system. "It's something we've been working on for a lot or years and the need is even greater now than it was when we started," said AFBF President Stallman.

To hear the entire audio broadcast, visit http://www.fb.org/index.php? action=newsroom.newsclip&id=6g602
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Title Annotation:immigration update
Publication:Mushroom News
Date:Jul 1, 2011
Words:447
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