Dairy farmers look to Congress for ag labor fix

Dairy farmers are looking for answers from Congress as labor issues persist.

Minnesota Milk vice president Shelly DePestel de-PEST-uhl of Lewiston joined other dairy leaders in Washington, D.C. earlier this week to discuss legislative priorities with lawmakers.

She says immigration reform has to be addressed.

“Specifically Hispanic labor within the dairy sector is a very necessary component of our businesses, and whenever we can get people to help support in any way some options for visas and that type of thing for the workforce.”

DePestel tells Brownfield she supports Representative Bob Goodlatte’s Ag Act legislation that would put renewable visas into the hands of foreign employees.

“It seems like a really good way, especially for new people, to enter the country and become part of our labor force.”

DePestel adds she would like to see some additional language in the Ag Act.

“If there could be some compromise on families being able to stay here.  That’s what makes people part of your community is when they have family and really feel like they’re a part of our neck of the woods so to speak.”

Goodlatte’s bill would provide a replacement to the H-2A program, a seasonal visa which has been widely criticized for being cumbersome and unreliable in providing ag labor.


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