President Obama’s executive order on immigration did little to address the needs of Wisconsin’s agriculture industry. Farmers here – particularly dairy farmers – are heavily reliant on the labor of immigrant laborers.
Wisconsin Farmers Union President, Darin Von Ruden, said farmers were disappointed that the president’s executive order did little to address what he calls a frustrating situation. “They have a hard time hiring folks, simply because they’re a little bit unsure of their legal status here, and then you have farmers competing with farmers for the workers that are legal,” Von Ruden said.
Karen Gefvert, Director of Governmental Relations for Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, agrees that farmers are frustrated. “It’s really become a pretty fragile discussion,” she said. “We’re not only talking about the business side of things, we’re talking about the humanitarian, emotional side of things.”
Both organizations supported a comprehensive immigration package which was passed by the U.S. Senate in 2013 – but which was never brought up for a vote in the House.
We were little disappointed to see that he (Obama) didn’t have much to say about agricultural workers,” Von Ruden said. “We need both a short-term and long-term solution,” Gefvert said. “The president’s executive action gives us some, but not enough.”