The farm industry is integral to the economy of most states, and immigrant labor plays a large role in the success of farming. Farmers in Maryland and other states may be reeling from the uncertainty of immigration law reform as they try to protect their workers and ensure an adequate workforce is available to keep their farms up and running. One farmer in particular fears for the future of his farm as the yogurt industry has increased demand and the immigration situation has put his workforce at risk for deportation.
The farmer recently profiled has a dairy farm and credits the Greek yogurt craze for an increase in demand for milk from his farm. This increase means a full-time year-round workforce is needed. The farmer relies on immigrant workers because he says locals are not willing to do the work. Immigration law limits workers to seasonal employees, but he needs help from immigrants throughout the year.
Another dairy farmer who is the president of his state’s Farm Bureau traveled to the nation’s capital to seek support, but he claims that he does not feel as if any help will soon be forthcoming from legislators. Dairy farmers say the demand has slowed some recently, but they predict a dire future and a loss of dairy producers if the immigration issue is not resolved. One farmer believes dairy farms may switch to crops to allow for the use of seasonal labor if the immigration reform stalls.
For farmers and immigrants alike, the status of President Obama’s proposed immigration law is of utmost importance. As the law’s fate is decided, both groups will likely be keeping a close eye on the developments on both the state and federal levels. Meanwhile, farmers in Maryland seem to be doing the best they can to ensure the prosperity of their businesses.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Dairy farmers, in dire need of workers, feel helpless as immigration reform sours“, Tina Susman, March 30, 2015