Dairies Rely on Foreign Workers

“The Economic Impacts of Immigration on the U.S. Dairy Farms,“ a survey conducted by the National Milk Producers Federation, found that U.S. dairy farms rely on immigrant labor and half their foreign-born workforce brings in $11 billion nationwide.
Over 2,000 dairy farms were surveyed in 47 states last fall and found that the loss of immigrant labor would force 2,266 dairy farms to cut 670,000 cows and milk production would decrease by 14.7 billion pounds.
“At a time of rising unemployment across America, our elected officials need to understand that the need for rational immigration reform is all the more imperative,” NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said. “Congress needs to act quickly to pass legislation such as AgJobs bill, recently introduced in both the House and Senate. AgJobs is a step towards comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration laws, which is clearly needed.”
Immigration reform is a priority for NMPF this year.
According the survey, 138,000 people are employed by dairy farms. 41 percent are immigrants and 98 percent of those are from Mexico.
“Punitive or unworkable labor policies may appear to be intended to help American-born workers, but what this survey found is that without access to immigrant workers, the economics of the entire dairy industry, as well as many rural communities and other industries, are negatively affected.” Mike McCloskey of Fair Oaks Farm said. “You can’t extract immigrant workers out of the equation without creating a negative ripple effect that hurts many other workers as well.”
McCloskey is also a member of the NMPF’s task force. “We need labor policies that will help us maintain our existing workforce, and ensure we have viable ways of obtaining workers in the future,” he added. “A failure by our lawmakers to act cannot be an option, because tens of thousands of workers are depending on us finding a way to address farm labor needs.”
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