Comprehensive immigration reform is critical to sustaining the Midwest's role as a global leader in agriculture. That's the message from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Vilsack told St. Louis Public Radio Monday that moving forward with the immigration reform plan recently passed by the U.S. Senate is key to retaining international talent that comes to this country to study in the plant sciences.
"Immigration reform focuses on making sure that the visa program for those scientists, those researchers, is doable," said Vilsack. "That it provides greater flexibility than the current system and gives us the capacity to attract more talent from around the world."
Vilsack also said the Senate plan expands the guest worker program which would make it easier to maintain a steady and legal supply of farm labor. Some Republican leaders in the GOP controlled U.S. House of Representatives have criticized the Senate's plan, saying in part that it is too vague when it comes to ensuring border security.