U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says crops could end up rotting in the fields because of a lack of labor due to the nation’s immigration problems. Speaking before a farm group in Omaha, Vilsack says the elected leaders in Washington understand illegal immigration is a problem, but nobody wants to put aside politics and address it.

“Everybody in this country knows that this immigration system is broken, everybody in this country,” Vilsack says, “every member of Congress, all 530 members of the House, all 100 members of the Senate, they know the immigration system is broken, but yet nothing happens.” Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says politicians are too eager to use the issue as a partisan tool rather than try to find a resolution.

“Everybody knows it’s a problem,” Vilsack says. “Where are the statesmen? Where are the people that are willing to put the national interests ahead of all else?” Vilsack, the head of the U.S.D.A., says the immigration issue may very soon begin to have a significant impact on agriculture.

“Here’s the risk to farming,” he says. “We’re getting to a point where crops may rot because we simply don’t have the people in the fields to do the work that needs to be done.” Vilsack insists the problem can be resolved.

“The solution is not the issue here,” Vilsack says. “The problem is, people want to play politics with this issue. They want to go into your communities and they want to scare people about immigrants. They want to divide the nation over this issue because they think there’s political advantage.” Vilsack made his comments Monday to delegates to the National Farmers Union convention.