DFA Member Testifies on Labor Needs of the Dairy Industry

Says labor needs is the single most difficult challenge facing food production
October 10, 2007

Kansas City, Mo. -Randy Mouw, a member of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) from Ontario, Calif., testified on the labor needs of agriculture to the U.S House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. Mouw was one of 12 people who testified at the Committee’s hearing on Oct. 4, and said that labor needs is the single most difficult challenge facing food production in this country today.

Mouw and his wife, Rose, operate a family farm, Misty Morning Dairy, with their son, Ryan, who is the assistant dairy manager. They milk 1,400 cows and employ 17 additional people. Another son, Travis, also is in the dairy business and started his own dairy two years ago.

“The availability of labor on this country’s dairy farms is critical to our industry, and immigration reform is a must for U.S. agriculture,” Mouw says. “The issue is not only about border security and labor force security, but more importantly food security and economic security.”

Mouw also testified that this issue impacts all sizes and all locations of farms.

“Large herds and small, and in all parts of the country, dairies are family owned and operated, but outside labor is a necessity on most farms.”

Mouw encouraged Congress to enact what is achievable – to improve labor force security by providing a sensible, fair and workable program for a legal immigrant agricultural workforce. He identified three key principles that must be included in a legislative solution:

 

  • An affordable and efficient guest worker program that ensures the continued availability of immigrant labor for all of agriculture, including dairies
  • A provision that allows those currently employed or with recent employment history in the U.S. to earn the right to work here legally, regardless of their current legal status
  • A provision that specifies the responsibility for ultimate verification of the legal status of a worker lies with the government, not with employers

DFA encourages lawmakers to support the enactment of the bipartisan immigration legislation related to agricultural workers, Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2007 (AgJOBS). AgJOBS has been reintroduced into the Senate and House of Representatives with broad support as S. 340 and H.R. 371.