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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Wisconsin dairy farmers push for immigration reform

    By Rick Barrett of the Journal Sentinel
    July 20, 2015 9:58 p.m.

    Wisconsin dairy farmers are pushing for immigration reform, saying they need a federal labor policy that guarantees they will have enough employees to maintain and expand their businesses.

    By some estimates, nearly half or more of the hired help on U.S. dairy farms is immigrant labor — with a large percentage of those workers being undocumented.

    Without the foreign help, some farmers say, they would be forced to quit milking cows because there aren't enough other people willing to do such physically demanding work.

    "If our immigrants left, we would have to dispense of everything, I guess," said John Rosenow, a Buffalo County dairy farmer who milks 550 cows and has employees from Mexico.

    Members of the Dairy Business Association, based in Green Bay, recently went to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers on immigration law reforms.

    "I felt it was important to attend because the immigration issue is so critical to our industry, and really to the entire country," said Elmwood dairy farmer Paul Fetzer.

    Unlike immigrants who can obtain a work permit for seasonal agricultural jobs, foreign workers on dairy farms can't get the H-2A visa because the jobs are year-round rather than temporary.

    Yet many dairy operations are "overwhelmingly staffed" with immigrant labor, said Erich Straub, a Milwaukee lawyer who handles immigration law cases.

    "The reality is that probably 75% or more of that labor is undocumented," Straub said.
    Walker's stance

    Gov. Scott Walker has taken an increasingly tough stance on immigration, and earlier this year said he now opposes granting citizenship to illegal immigrants until there is greater border security and tougher enforcement of immigration laws.

    Last weekend, while campaigning in Iowa for the Republican presidential nomination, Walker said that he sympathized with a woman who worried that her parents could be deported but that he believed the nation had to stick by its immigration laws.

    Last year, Walker and other governors filed a lawsuit to block President Barack Obama's policy known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans that would spare as many as 5million people from being deported.

    Farmers say it's difficult to find reliable help, even in rural areas where people were born and raised on farms, and even when the jobs pay significantly more than minimum wage.

    "Society has changed, and not everybody enjoys working with animals like we do," said Shelly Mayer, a dairy farmer from Slinger and executive director of Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

    Under one industry proposal, immigrant workers would be able to get a year-round visa specifically to work on dairy farms.

    "We are looking for a program that would be run through the USDA," said Laurie Fischer of the American Dairy Coalition, based in Green Bay.

    Farms, like other employers, are required to file federal employment forms when they hire someone. As part of the process, they're supposed to ask the prospective employee for a Social Security card.

    Often, though, people provide the farmer with false documents, according to Straub.

    "They aren't going out and stealing someone's identity to clean out a bank account. But sometimes they come forward with a Social Security number that doesn't belong to anybody or that belongs to somebody not actively using it," he said.

    Farmers could be sued for discrimination if they question documents from some people but not others, Straub said.

    "They simply have to look at the face of the document, and if it appears legitimate, they have to accept it," he said.
    'Brutal process'

    The federal government hasn't done widespread worker document audits in the dairy industry, although it has audited individual farms. It's a "particularly brutal process" for dairy operations, Straub said, because the cows still have to be milked three times a day whether or not workers are available.

    Some farms use robotic milkers, so they don't need as much hired help, but that comes with its own problems, including the cost and maintenance of the equipment.
    Help hard to find

    In their pursuit of hired help, some farmers have placed "help wanted" ads on Facebook and Craigslist. But often they've received little or no response.

    Dairy farmer Carrie Mess recently posted ads to hire someone for her 100-cow operation near Watertown. Most of the responses were from people who had never worked on a farm or had issues such as a criminal past or poor work record.

    "We don't mind looking past some transgressions. But when you have a rap sheet with some serious stuff on it, and it's evident that you haven't learned any lessons, it's a problem," Mess said.

    Mess said she would consider hiring an immigrant worker, although she worries that a language barrier could be difficult to overcome in a fast-moving and sometimes dangerous work environment.

    "If immigrants are the ones who want to work, and they will show up and do the job, we need that. So many of us (farmers) have learned that there aren't enough willing workers," Mess said.

    The dairy industry's growth went flat in the 1990s, at least partly because of a lack of hired help, according to Rosenow.

    "Once we discovered immigrant labor, then the industry just took off," he said.

    But now, with a shortage of immigrant workers and uncertainty around immigration law reform, growth at some farms has slowed.

    Especially with a low unemployment rate, "it's just really hard to find local people" wanting to work on a dairy farm, Rosenow said.

    http://www.jsonline.com/business/wis...317681341.html
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  2. #2
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    Here we go again and some more. What is done for one will be done for all. Americans become the forgotten victims.

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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


    Sign in and post comments here.

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  5. #5
    Senior Member Captainron's Avatar
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    Good. More sugary ice cream. More chocolate milk. More cheese products. And more Americans complaining about lactose intolerance. This is really a great system.
    "Men of low degree are vanity, Men of high degree are a lie. " David
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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