Although the U.S. Congress – rather than the Texas Legislature – influences most immigration policy, the Texas Association of Dairymen closely monitors all policy debate on the immigration issue.
TAD advocates immigration reform that takes the burden of policing workers’ eligibility off the shoulders of dairy farmers and does not restrict access to a much-needed labor pool.
Farmers – including dairy farmers – depend on immigrant national workers to fill labor-intensive farm jobs that American born-workers are unwilling to fill, no matter how bad the economy gets. In addition, the labor market is especially tight in rural areas.
Just over half of all workers on U.S. dairy farms are immigrants. Damage from losing those immigrant workers would extend beyond the farms, according to a 2015 study by Texas A&M University AgriLife Research for the National Federation of Milk Producers. The study found that eliminating immigrant labor would:
• Increase retail milk prices by 90%
• Eliminate 208,208 jobs nationwide, including 77,000 dairy jobs
• Cost U.S. economic output by $32.1 billion
• Reduce the U.S. dairy herd by 2.1 million cows
• Cut milk production by 48.4 billion pounds (almost 5.9 billion gallons)
• Eliminate 1 in 6 dairy farms
The current rigid immigration system that makes it difficult for agricultural employers to utilize the current guest worker program.
Texas dairymen need a legal, reliable source of labor to continue to operate at their full capacity to feed the growing state, nation and world population.