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State of the Union Touches on Ag Issues of Trade, Immigration

President Obama addresses variety of ag issues in State of the Union Address; groups respond

Published on: Jan 30, 2014

Farm groups reacted Wednesday to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, reflecting on his plan for transportation infrastructure, tax reform, immigration, energy and trade in 2014.

The President promised a spirit of cooperation for the year ahead, noting that there are several issues in the legislature that must achieve a consensus. For ag groups, that sentiment rang true as bills to reform waterways and immigration are imminent.

"Many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force, and, without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor-intensive crops or go off shore," American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman commented.  "Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food."

President Obama delivers the 2014 State of the Union Address in the House Chamber, Jan. 28, 2014. (White House photo)
President Obama delivers the 2014 State of the Union Address in the House Chamber, Jan. 28, 2014. (White House photo)

Stallman went on to note that AFBF expects an agriculture labor program with both short- and long-term stability that provides access to a legal workforce.

Obama noted that a review by independent economists shows that immigration reform will grow the economy and shrink deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.

The National Farmers Union said it supports immigration reform, noting that it should "be a priority for liberals, moderates and conservatives alike."

Tax Reform

Constantly on the minds of farmers and business owners, Obama also said tax reform should be a priority of Democrats and Republicans, who he says have both have argued that the tax code is riddled with wasteful loopholes.