Immigration Reform Could Help Dairy Farmers

With Congress reconvening after the Fourth of July holiday, dairy farmers are resuming their lobbying efforts on immigration reform, hoping to convince the House of Representatives to pass the Senate’s immigration bill.
Diary farmers have been in a precarious position for the past several years. More than other agricultural products, milk and other dairy products have been in a constant price flux. With prices shifting rapidly, many farmers have suffered major losses, driving many dairy farmers out of business.
Compounding these difficulties is a tightening farm labor pool. With fewer and fewer workers, farmers are finding it difficult to turn a profit in the midst of a major dairy slump.
The Senate immigration reform bill, however, offers many dairy farmers a way forward. Expanding the federal work visa program, allowing more immigrants to reside and work in the country will open up labor markets and free dairy farmers from having to rely on unreliable local labor sources.
According to one New York farmer, “We spend weeks of training before people can milk cows and do their jobs without direct supervision. Any time we have to transition workers, there’s a huge profit loss to us, so long-term employment is absolutely critical.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer