National FFA officers meet with Secretary Vilsack at the Agriculture Department on January 15. USDA photo by Tom Witham.
“We are excited by the challenges you presented to us,” said FFA National Secretary Mitch Bayer at the conclusion of a half-hour meeting of National FFA officers with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the USDA Whitten Building earlier this week.
In his meeting with the officers, the Secretary covered a wide range of issues, including the immediate need for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. When it passes, he said, the National FFA should study provisions that will help young, beginning farmers become established. He said there will be, he hopes, an easier path to credit and also support for the USDA microloan program, which helps beginning farmers and others buy equipment, rent ground, and buy livestock or supplies at affordable interest rates. The Secretary noted that 70 percent of the world’s farmers are women, and USDA is working to provide greater opportunities to women, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans and others who want to farm. Read more »
Today we posted the first edition of a new video feature at USDA. Each week we’ll share a rundown of some of the key announcements, activities, and current events related to our work at USDA, giving you the highlights. Tune in next week, and let us know what you think of the first edition – we’d love your feedback!
Each year on Labor Day, we take time to reflect on the productivity of America’s workers and our responsibility as a nation to support their efforts.
This year, as we gather to celebrate, Congress has a timely opportunity to create an even stronger American workforce for generations to come. They can do so by fixing America’s broken immigration system.
The broad impacts that immigration reform would have for our economy are well documented. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and Social Security Office of the Chief Actuary, the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill would boost our economy by 3.3 percent, reduce the deficit by a projected $850 billion and add nearly $300 billion to our Social Security system by the end of the decade. Read more »
Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a commonsense immigration reform measure in a strongly bipartisan fashion. The Senate plan provides a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are in our country without authorization. They will have to go to the back of the line, pay fines and settle taxes they owe our nation. It would also put in place the toughest border security plan that America has ever seen. Read more »
Today, the White House released a new report detailing the important benefits provided by the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill for the domestic agriculture sector, its workforce, and rural American communities. As the report states, in recent years, the agriculture sector has seen strong growth, with farm income and agriculture exports both reaching historic highs. But there’s more work to do, and currently the agriculture industry is hampered by a broken immigration system that fails to support a predictable and stable workforce. Among all economic sectors, the U.S. agriculture sector is particularly reliant on foreign-born workers. Agricultural producers cite difficulty in locating qualified available authorized workers—both foreign and domestic—as one reason for the high rate of undocumented labor. Moreover, there continues to be insufficient U.S. workers to fill labor needs: of those crop workers surveyed between 2007 and 2009, 71 percent were foreign born.
As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “If we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable — businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.” Read more »
This week, President Obama laid out a vision for America’s economic future. Since day one, the Obama Administration has been focused on our nation’s economic recovery, and over recent years we’ve seen positive signs of growth.
Businesses have created more than 7 million new jobs over the past 40 months. The housing market is coming back. Led by the tremendous productivity of America’s farmers and ranchers, our nation’s exports are growing.
But we also know that much remains to be done, and there’s no excuse for letting up. The President is squarely focused on building a strong middle class. He is committed to ensuring that every American has the opportunity to secure a good job, a quality education, a dependable place to call home, a secure path to retirement and affordable health care with decent benefits. Read more »