Agriculture Isn’t About to Leave U.S. Over Lack of Immigration Reform

Daren Bakst /

Pete Souza

Pete Souza

The Obama Administration is getting desperate as it clamors for reasons to push comprehensive immigration reform.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack claims that without immigration reform, farms won’t be as productive as they could be, and they are thinking about moving operations outside the country, according to a recent Politico story:

If it [immigration reform] somehow doesn’t happen, then what’s going to happen is what’s already happening, which is people are going to make decisions…based on the risk of not having a workforce and they’re going to scale back their operations and that’s going to mean less opportunity for jobs, less [agricultural] exports and less income.

This is consistent with statements he has made before.

Yet some facts, many of which were highlighted the by the USDA the same day Vilsack made these remarks, tell a different story:

This doesn’t sound like the agriculture sector should be too eager to leave the U.S.

If there’s a concern with agriculture output, the Administration shouldn’t have supported a nearly $1 trillion farm bill that limits the supply of commodities, such as through marketing orders (government-authorized cartels of producers) and the sugar program.

If anything, we should be worried about the costly implications of subsidies and central planning policies and how they may drive companies, such as confectioners, out of the country.

A sensible discussion on the narrow issue of reforming the guest worker program does make sense. However, scare tactics about agriculture “leaving town” without immigration reform is just laughable.