James Comer: Kentucky Farmers, Livestock Producers Would Benefit from Immigration Reform

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner says the state’s farmers and livestock producers would be big winners if Congress and President Obama can agree on immigration reform.

“Hopefully they can find some resolution in Congress,” Comer said. “And I think we’re closer now, because I think a lot of Republicans—and I’m a Republican—see this as an issue that they’re going to have to change their mindset on.”

Comer said he constantly hears from Kentucky farmers who can’t find Americans willing to do the manual labor needed to run farms and livestock operations. Comer, a Monroe County farmer, says providing a way for immigrant laborers to at least obtain permanent legal status would be a tremendous boost for the state’s agriculture industry.

Comer said that if it weren’t for immigrant labor, many Kentucky farmers wouldn’t be able to harvest their crops. He added that it’s not realistic to expect farmers to figure out the immigration status of potential employees.

“They try to do things right, but it’s difficult to find out when they hire immigrant labor whether their status is legal or not,” Comer said. “It’s just too difficult.”

Comer says he has spoken to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul about the need for an immigration overhaul and what it would mean for the commonwealth’s agriculture industry. Comer said he believes many Republicans are beginning to see the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

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