Dairy leaders call on US Senate to fix labor shortages

Wisconsin and national dairy leaders are pushing the US Senate to cut food prices and fix the agricultural labor shortage by reforming immigrant labor policies.

In a press conference Thursday, leaders said the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bill already passed by the US House and pending in the Senate, would fix labor shortages by letting them hire H-2A visa workers.

The H-2A program allows employers to bring in immigrants for temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs. As of now, the dairy industry is excluded from the program.

That fuels labor shortages because there aren’t enough US citizens to staff the nation’s dairy farms, said Brody Stapel, the board president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and a Wisconsin dairy farmer.

“There are not either enough local workers or enough willing workers to fill these labor-heavy jobs. Farmers have tried everything, and these are typically living wage jobs,” Stapel said. “Wisconsin alone has a lot to lose if we don’t solve this serious problem.”

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