Can Wisconsin fill all its jobs without immigrants? The answer – at least as far as the dairy industry is concerned – would seem to be no.
John Holevoet with the Dairy Business Association. Holevoet says the industry relies on immigrants.
“We have an aging population, both aging farmers and aging employees. That includes both our native-born and immigrant employees, so long-term we are going to face even more severe labor shortages,” Holevoet said.
The Dairy Business Association is part of the Partnership for a New American Economy, pushing for immigration reforms.
Dave Gorak is executive director of the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration.
“The dairy industry has a legitimate beef, because theirs’ is a year-round industry, and we are not suggesting that we don’t need any foreign workers at all,” Gorak said.
But Gorak said there are existing ways to meet the need in agriculture. He said industries that hire large numbers of immigrant works are merely looking to keep labor costs low. Holevoat disputes that, saying the dairy industry pays competitive wages.