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Wisconsin Ag News Headlines
Goodlatte Immigration Bill Gets Nod from DBMMC
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 10/05/2017

Another Wisconsin farm organization says it can stand behind the Agricultural Guestworker Act, or AG Act, policy being proposed by Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte. The Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, which represents about 800 dairy farmers throughout the Midwest, says the measure provides one of the best ways to access a sustainable workforce in the nation's dairy industry.

Specifically, the bill would establish a year-round guestworker program to help sectors of the ag industry that do not benefit from the traditional H-2A regulations, such as dairies, aquaculture operations and food processors. It would also allow undocumented farm workers to apply for H-2C visas so they can work legally, and give workers in specialized jobs an initial stay of 36 months.

DBMMC President John Pagel from Kewaunee says the future for all of agriculture depends on a workable solution to these labor needs.

"Changes in demographics and labor patterns have made it impossible for growing farms to fill all available positions with American citizens," Pagel said. "As a result, dairy farming has become increasingly dependent on foreign-born employees. Unfortunately, there are no agricultural visa programs that meet dairy farmers' year-round staffing needs, highlighting the importance to quickly move the AG Act forward."

The DBMMC board is urging the House Judiciary Committee to take up the bill and advance it to the House floor.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay-based American Dairy Coalition will host a presentation on the guestworker visa program at World Dairy Expo on Thursday to discuss the details of the bill. That session begins at 11:30 a.m. in the Monona Room of the Alliant Energy Center.

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