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  1. #1
    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    USDA secretary wants separate immigration program for agricultural workers

    USDA secretary wants separate immigration program for agricultural workers

    February 22, 2018

    by Mark Weinraub; Writing by Ana ManoEditing by Chizu Nomiyama

    ARLINGTON, Va. (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said on Thursday the government wants a separate immigration program for agricultural workers.


    U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks at an event to celebrate the re-introduction of American beef imports to China, in Beijing, China June 30, 2017




    Speaking on the first day of the annual USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, he said agriculture is caught in the crossfire of the immigration debate. “The people who come to America to work on farms and ranches are not taking jobs from Americans,” Perdue said. “They are not the ones putting a burden on criminal justice system or welfare system.”



    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-u...-idUSKCN1G61R4
    Last edited by GeorgiaPeach; 02-26-2018 at 08:10 PM.
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    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    (Watch Video at Link. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue talks to an almond plant worker concerned about illegal aliens who work hard, pay taxes but it is so hard to be legal. The Agriculture Secretary tells the woman that they have "quietly" instructed the Homeland Security and ICE to be careful about raids, don't incite fear. They are not the target.)



    Trump 'gets what you're saying': Agriculture secretary talks immigration, water and food stamps on California tour


    By GEOFFREY MOHAN
    FEB 21, 2018 | 5:00 AM



    You might already know this …," Central Valley farmer Sarah Woolf offered politely, before launching on a primer on California's convoluted water system.


    "No, I don't," Sonny Perdue, Trump's secretary of Agriculture, interrupted. "I need all the
    Education I can get."



    Nervous laughter filled the Harris Woolf California Almonds processing facility in Coalinga. It was the second day of Perdue's recent whistle-stop educational tour of California's $45-billion agriculture industry, and Perdue, a veterinarian and former two-term governor of Georgia, got an earful.



    In the world of politics, secretaries at the U.S. Department of Agriculture seldom leave lasting impressions (who remembers Mike Johanns or Ed Schaffer?). They hold as much attention span with Californians as the miles and miles of groves that blur by on Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.



    Perdue's predecessors were more apt to make headlines for their policies over forests or food stamps than for their roles in food safety, crop subsidies, trade, rural development and the funding of land-grant colleges.


    But others have overlooked George Irvin "Sonny" Perdue III to their peril — among them, Georgia Democrat Roy Barnes, who lost the governorship to him in 2003. An underfunded underdog, Perdue became the first Republican to govern the Peach State since Reconstruction.


    Perdue also is a successful businessman who built a commodities trading company one grain elevator at a time.


    Those are traits Trump respects in Perdue, which could give him unusual power in the Cabinet, said Dan Sumner, an agriculture and resource economist at UC Davis.



    When he says things to Trump, Trump can hear him saying, 'Be careful about your constituency. Unless you want to see Nancy Pelosi in power, you better see to the reelections in the Central Valley.' "



    Put more bluntly, Trump has to ponder whether he wants Republican Congressman Devin Nunes or some Democrat leading the Russia investigation, Sumner said.


    Here are some of the highlights of Perdue's visit:


    Food over endangered fish


    Woolf walked Perdue through the maze of agencies, none of which are under USDA control, that decide how much water irrigates 4.5 million acres of farmland in the southern San Joaquin Valley.


    The Bureau of Reclamation, part of the Interior Department, runs the Central Valley Project, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also under Interior, sets limits on water use to protect the endangered salmon and smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The National Marine Fisheries Service, under the Commerce Department, also has a say in protecting those species.


    Both the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project draw water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, commingling their water behind the San Luis Dam, run jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the state Department of Water Resources.


    Growers want the state to allow the federal bureau to use more storage space, to little avail, Woolf said.


    "You mean the federal government is more flexible than the state government?" Perdue quipped, to laughter. "Only in California."


    "The good news is we do have sort of a new sheriff in town — Ryan Zinke at the Department of Interior is much more favorable to what you're talking about," Perdue said to Woolf and a handful of other growers. "I think it would be helpful, frankly, if we came back with Zinke and had just a water trip, a water tour from end to end."



    We have very quietly spoken with our Department of Homeland Security


    U.S. AGRICULTURE SECRETARY SONNY PERDUE




    The USDA will push the Interior Department and the state to remove the "handcuffs" on water supply created by regulation and litigation, Perdue said.


    "We would be happy to be a lead advocate on behalf of agricultural uses, as long as municipal water usage is also considered," he said. "I would put, obviously, drinking water for people, agricultural use and endangered species, in that order. I think sometimes that's been reversed. Is the press here? Write it down."


    ‘Trump gets what you are saying’



    Hortencia Solario, a longtime worker at the Harris Woolf plant who was invited to speak by her boss, Stuart Woolf, asked if Perdue could be "some kind of advocate" for immigrant workers.


    "There's people that want to do it right — they came in undocumented. They've been working here lots of years. They pay their taxes. They want to do it right," she said. "People are not going to their jobs because they're afraid."


    Trump "gets what you're saying" and is not out to chase workers from the fields at a time when growers face a persistent shortage of labor, Perdue said.


    "The only thing I can tell you is we have very quietly spoken with our Department of Homeland Security people who regulate ICE and indicated some of their publicized type of raids really hurt the people who are out here trying to work," Perdue replied.


    The "obvious answer" is immigration reform, including a bill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia that would create a path to citizenship and transfer the foreign agricultural
    guest worker program from the Department of Labor to the USDA, Perdue said.


    "I don't know if we can do that in the current environment or not — I don't know whether there's an environment where we can," Perdue said. "There's still a lot of people we haven't been able to persuade in Washington that we can't find domestic workers, irrespective of what the wage rate is, to do these jobs."



    Opening a door in the border ‘wall’



    Short of immigration reform, growers will need to import more workers, Perdue acknowledged. He supports a proposal to shift most of the responsibility for the agricultural guest worker visa program to the USDA from the Labor Department.


    California growers last year recruited a record 14,252 guest workers, mostly from Mexico, a 28% jump from the previous year, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.


    Growers complain that too many agencies are involved in the H-2A visa program, and that requirements to advertise for U.S.-based workers just waste time and money. Even with wages now exceeding $15 an hour, not enough U.S. workers are showing up.


    Labor activists counter that growers just want compliant workers who are unlikely to stir up trouble and lose their shot at a return trip next season. The Labor Department and other agencies already struggle to keep up with the growth and to prosecute abuses that have verged on human trafficking and indentured servitude, they say.


    Perdue acknowledged that the transition would be difficult and slow. The agency could supplement its existing network of rural development and farm services offices with labor experts, he said.


    "It would be a challenge of transition," Perdue told the Los Angeles Times after the meeting. "It wouldn't be quick, in six months like some people have talked about. But over a period of time we think we could do a good job."



    Trade Worries


    California growers have been especially wary of Trump's "America First" trade policies, including renegotiating terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and threats to impose steep tariffs on imported goods.



    U.S. agricultural and related products — including dairy, meat, forestry products and fish — amass a $5-billion trade surplus with the world, according to the USDA. California growers earned $21 billion from trade in 2016 — about 44% of their total revenue, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.


    "Although I understand that we need to protect jobs back at home, sometimes the unintended consequences of that in the ag community is the exports that we're trying to send overseas," said Justin Morehead, a vice president at Harris Woolf.


    "There's no doubt agriculture for years has been the tip of the spear of retaliatory measures — It's kind of the underbelly of our economy, where we're most vulnerable," Perdue said. "All I can tell you now is we're hearing you loud and clear."


    Perdue said he is "in their face" with administration officials during weekly meetings when trade issues come up.




    Food Stamp Reform


    The Trump budget draft included a surprise proposal to shift some of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as "food stamps," from a debit card format to a "harvest box" filled with food selected by the government.


    It’s not a sham. It’s not a silly proposal. It’s something that we’d like to see seriously considered and debated.

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SECRETARY SONNY PERDUE ON A FOOD STAMP REFORM PROPOSAL




    The proposal has drawn widespread criticism from advocates for the poor, who see it as a paternalistic "nanny state" approach that also happens to favor agricultural producers. Retailers who accept SNAP debit cards also worry about lost sales, even as leaders of food banks worry about additional work preparing the meal boxes.


    Even the Republicans who chair agriculture committees in the House and Senate have declared the idea all but dead on arrival.


    Perdue staunchly defended the proposal.


    "We think it's our responsibility to create new, innovative ideas of delivering food to the people who need it. And this is one area," he said. "Obviously there are a lot of logistics concerns to do that. But it's a real idea. It's not a sham. It's not a silly proposal. It's something that we'd like to see seriously considered, and debated."



    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...221-story.html


    Last edited by GeorgiaPeach; 02-26-2018 at 08:53 PM.
    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    Sonny Perdue’s lonely quest on immigration


    February 23, 2018

    Tamar Hallerman


    WASHINGTON —

    Listen to former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue give a speech these days and he’s quick to talk about his frequent road trips.


    He’s traveled to 33 states in his first 10 months as secretary of agriculture. And as Perdue told it at an Agriculture Department-sponsored conference in Virginia on Thursday, farmers in every region of the country ask him about more or less the same three issues: regulations, trade and immigration.
    The administration is on the same page as the farmers when it comes to whittling down regulations, he said. And Perdue indicated that President Donald Trump understands the key issues for ag when it comes to trade deals like NAFTA.


    But immigration has been a far lonelier fight for Perdue.


    Trump rose to prominence in 2016 with a platform that emphasized economic protectionism and deporting undocumented immigrants.



    That in many respects diverges from what farmers rely on: seasonal, dependable labor. Given the long hours and difficult, physical labor needed during harvest time, many agriculture workers are foreigners – and are often undocumented.



    Perdue on Thursday said he has been trying to sell his colleagues in the administration on a new class of visa that could meet the needs of the ag industry but isn’t as costly or cumbersome as the current H-2A system. (Georgia farmers have long complained about its shortcomings.)


    But he also suggested he was having a hard time getting some of his White House cohorts on board.


    “Agriculture is frankly a pretty unique area within the immigration (system). I’ve worked hard at the White House to persuade people who may not understand that,” Perdue told the conference crowd, which was packed with hundreds of ag stakeholders. “They still believe that there’s a domestic workforce out there who will farm and gather those crops every year, and I’ve invited those people to go out to the farms and fields with me but I haven’t had any takers yet.”



    His comment drew a chuckle from the crowd, but it underscores the uphill climb Perdue and his allies face in this current political climate.



    The Senate was unable to agree last week on a legal pathway for Dreamers, perhaps the most sympathetic group of immigrants in the U.S. And industry boosters like former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss have tried unsuccessfully for years to get Congress to approve a new guest worker program for agriculture – only to see the issue swept up in larger, far more contentious debates over illegal immigration.



    Perdue said he’s hired a lawyer from the American Farm Bureau to help craft a program that addresses the needs of the ag industry while making sure criminals and other bad actors are removed.


    The people who come to America to work on farms and ranches are not taking jobs from Americans. You know that and I know that,” Perdue told the crowd. “These are not the people who are committing crimes… They just want an economic opportunity for a good job and to provide for their families.”




    https://politics.myajc.com/blog/poli...vvC3rVX8aIHeO/
    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
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    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    The people who come to America to work on farms and ranches are not taking jobs from Americans. You know that and I know that,” Perdue told the crowd. “These are not the people who are committing crimes… They just want an economic opportunity for a good job and to provide for their families.”
    What garbage to say they are not committing crimes. Whether the individual or family members, they are committing crimes.

    Shame to lie, Secretary Perdue. Another amnesty shill.
    JohnK, artist and Judy like this.
    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    The USDA should help farmers and growers advertise and promote their jobs to people nationwide. If they can pay for transportation for foreign workers to come here to work, then they first should pay American Workers to go to their sites and work, provide nice housing, expenses, etc., like any decent employer and also a good wage commensurate with the work being done. Americans have always done this work, we don't need foreign workers, our workers need notice, transportation, expense money and a market wage, that's all. Instead of USDA working with crummy employers to cheat Americans out of their jobs, USDA should help good employers match up with available American workers outside their state, but not outside the United States. Go in to these inner cities and talk to unemployed youth and ask them, would you like an opportunity to go to California and work the farms or dairies and here's what is being offered to you, make sure there's training included, and explain the package deal. Make sure they know the work is very hard in many cases, but the pay is commensurate for the hard work.

    I've never known an American to walk away from a good deal because it was "hard".
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    All these farmers are just spoiled by having all this illegal labor. They profit by the cheap plentiful illegal labor while the taxpayers are forced to subside their illegal employees. We have always had farms and dairies. I still say they should not try to grow or produce more than they can find legal employees for. I wonder how we got by after President Eisenhower deported all those illegals. I'll bet he didn't consider all the flimsy excuses to leave the illegals here. He did what was best for the overall country, not just a chosen few industries who profit from this travesty.
    artist, jtdc, MW and 1 others like this.

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    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    Another video with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. He interviewed about immigration, foreign workers, trade with Mexico.

    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
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    Another WRONG CHOICE APPOINTEE for trump - doesn't take much to see where this all goes. Agriculture appointee that wants foreign labor, EPA appointee that wants NOT to protect the environment, an Interior Sect'y that wants to RIP UP AND DESTROY ALL PRISTINE LANDS and the PROFITS GO TO----------
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    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    Related:



    South Carolina farmers share concerns about NAFTA, immigration with Agriculture Secretary Perdue



    https://www.alipac.us/f12/south-caro...-secre-356261/
    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
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  10. #10
    MW
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    Quote Originally Posted by artist View Post
    Another WRONG CHOICE APPOINTEE for trump - doesn't take much to see where this all goes. Agriculture appointee that wants foreign labor, EPA appointee that wants NOT to protect the environment, an Interior Sect'y that wants to RIP UP AND DESTROY ALL PRISTINE LANDS and the PROFITS GO TO----------
    I'm with you on your line of thinking. We knew going in that Sonny Purdue was just another 'big ole' gator for Trump's personal swamp.

    You can't drain a swamp by adding more swamp creatures. All that does is raise the water level. The higher the water, the easier it is to hide and operate.
    GeorgiaPeach and artist like this.

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