KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met with agricultural business representatives to talk about job growth in the industry Friday.
Vilsack is urging Congress to pass an immigration reform bill, and said it will bring benefits to farmers in both Kansas and Missouri.
Vilsack noted crops are growing in this country that are not being harvested, and claimed that there are farmers that can't find an adequate workforce due to immigration policies.
"Today, sadly, we've got crops that are growing in this country that are not being harvested, we've got dairy producers that can't find an adequate workforce. And that risks a migration of agriculture outside of the United States," Vilsack said. "We're losing economic opportunity. We're losing jobs."
When asked about using immigrant workers over American workers, Vilsack said he wanted U.S. citizens to have the first chance at the jobs.
"We can't use guest workers, we can't use this guest worker system, until we satisfied that there are indeed no American workers available or interested in taking these opportunities, so American workers clearly get first choice," Vilsack said. "If they choose not to or are insufficient numbers, then we can use a guest worker system that's included in this."
Republican supporters say border security measures must be addresses first before we can help illegal immigrants get on the path to citizenship.