Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged agricultural lobbyists to promote the issue of immigration reform to the American public.

In a luncheon speech to the Agribusiness Club of Washington, Vilsack, noting that California and Florida farmers are complaining about the uncertainty of the availability of farm labor said, “The agriculture world has to do a better job of explaining to ordinary Americans why they have a stake in immigration reform. About half the food you are consuming was touched at one point by immigrant hands.”

Vilsack said he does not think most Americans recognize that they enjoy a higher level of discretionary income because food costs are lower in the United States than in most countries. Farm productivity and efficient retailing are a large part of the reason for the low cost of food in the United States, he said, but added that low cost immigrant labor is also a factor.

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