Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Push for Immigration Reform

A coalition of Wisconsin dairy farmers are joining a growing number of American farm advocacy groups pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

For the past several years, immigration has been a hot button issues in several states. Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama, for example, recently passed strict immigration laws, requiring immigrants to carry proof of citizenship at all times, empowering state police to verify the immigration status of individuals they detained, and requiring all potential employers to use the federal E-Verify system.

While these laws dramatically drove down the number of undocumented workers in the state, the loss of these individuals also seriously hurt local agricultural production (largely due to the loss of farm labor).

Wisconsin dairy organizations are the latest group joining the push for comprehensive immigration reform, largely focusing on putting pressure on lawmakers to relax regulations on federal work visa programs.

According to a University of Wisconsin Madison study, up to 40 percent of Wisconsin dairy farm workers are undocumented workers. “It’s not a surprise to any of us that some of the workers on dairy farms today are not legal. It’s an uncomfortable situation for both them and their employers,” Jim Holte, president of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, said in an interview.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer