Solving the Immigrant Farm Labor Problem

by John McClaughry 

Last Monday Vermont Digger published a really fine article by Jasper Craven about the problems faced by Vermont dairy farmers. The occasion was a statewide meeting in Middlebury attended by Vermont Ag Secretary Anson Tebbetts, Senator Leahy, Congressman Welch, and the new Trump Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

The meeting discussed , as always, the low prices for bulk milk and the problem of reducing the phosphorus runoff flowing into the north end of Lake Champlain, an estimated forty percent of which originates with fertilizer applied to dairy farm croplands.

But perhaps the most time was spent on the problem of finding workers for dairy farms. Several farmers noted that Mexican immigrant laborers are essential to producing milk nowadays, since white and black Americans simply don’t want to milk cows and move manure.

These immigrants, some of them illegal, are under the gun in Washington. But there’s an obvious solution, called the H2A visa program for temporary agricultural workers. The problem is the “temporary” part, which is designed for, say, Jamaicans coming to Vermont for a couple of months to pick apples, then returning home.

The solution is to allow Mexican dairy workers to come for longer than temporary stays, and work full time on dairy farms. Senator Leahy, who has favored this for four or five years, needs to push a bill through to at the least make Vermont a pilot program for H2A extension.

- John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
Read more...

Latest News

Second Homeowners Testify Condos’ Office Okayed Voting In Vermont

by Rob Roper The case surrounding voter irregularity in Victory, Vermont, currently in the Essex superior court, involves a number of people who do not live in the...

“Clean Energy” vs. Renewable Energy Jobs

by Guy Page The solar power industry in Vermont employs about 1,680 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) workers, based on calculations derived from statistics in a 2017 report. The...

Another Carbon Tax Proposal!

by Rob Roper The Carbon Tax really is the zombie, body snatcher legislation that will not die. The past couple of months have seen a massive ramping up...

CON Laws Hurt The Most Vulnerable

by David Flemming Brookside Health and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in White River Junction is set to close, leaving 33 seniors in the lurch. The nursing home’s...

The Communism Centennial

by John McClaughry A hundred years ago last week armed Bolsheviks seized the Winter Palace in Petrograd—now St. Petersburg—and arrested ministers of Russia’s provisional government. The world’s first...

Video