Ag Policy Blog

Immigration Raids Could Send Milk Prices Soaring

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent

If the Trump administration conducts immigration raids on dairy farms that result in the deportation of workers, the price of a gallon of milk could soar to $8 per gallon.

Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for strategic initiatives and trade policy at the National Milk Producers Federation, raised that concern last week at the Consumer Federation of America’s National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.. Castaneda said that 80% of milk comes from farms that have foreign labor and that “if there were an attempt to remove workers you would have a significant shortage of milk and high prices.”

Castaneda said that the price could rise to $8 per gallon. That is compared to the national weighted average of $2.45 per gallon that the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service reported last week.

He also said that fluid milk might come from Mexico, where farm workers have fewer rights than in the United States.

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But Castaneda said the dairy industry had “very high expectations” that Congress could resolve the farm worker immigration problems, but that “We see what happened with the health insurance fiasco. The probability of having something else pass is diminished.”

Also on the panel, Angel Gonzalez, campaign coordinator, Civil Rights Department, United Food and Commercial Workers, said that UCFW opposes guest worker programs because farm workers “should be a permanent part of the society” rather than “shipped home” when it is not convenient for employers to retain them. The workers who are currently in the United States should be able to regularize their status, Gonzalez said.

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, assistant professor for food studies at Syracuse University, said that the H2A visa program has been set up for the benefit of the employers, not the workers.

Robert Guenther, senior vice president for public policy, United Fresh Produce Association, noted that there have been proposals to move the responsibility for farm workers from the Labor Department to USDA. The Trump administration might raise that idea as part of a government reorganization, but “is there a will to move the farm worker program to USDA?” Guenther asked.

The Washington Post reported late last week that the Homeland Security Department is moving quickly to build a deportation force and has identified 33,000 beds to detain undocumented immigrants.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…

USDA national retail report on dairy: https://www.ams.usda.gov/…

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Comments

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Jay Mcginnis
4/19/2017 | 6:53 AM CDT
Hey Clay, its not nice to make fun of the blog writers education, not everyone can boast of having a Trump-U certificate.
H. Clay Daulton
4/18/2017 | 12:29 PM CDT
Illegal field workers are somewhat common but have been growing less so for years. As for dairies being as effected to the degree you assert, I'm pretty sure you must be like one of those campus cry-bullies who hasn't yet recovered from common sense being returned to the US landscape, while still spewing hysteria at every opportunity. I didn't see in your text that you had interviewed even one commercial dairyman. There's a reality check missing here. I employ a quite legal Mexican and have never employed the other kind in over 50 years. Shame on DTN for paying for such falderal. And as for the part about importing milk from countries where employees aren't adequately paid, you also seem to ignore Trump's plans for dealing with such disparities. For goodness sake, why don't you write something interesting and true, like about monopolies and monopsonies in agriculture. Or are you a pseudo-journalist actually beholden to big-corp. A California Rancher.
BDukowitz1375121425
4/18/2017 | 7:48 AM CDT
Sure would be terrible for Obamma to fix his own divot.
Jay Mcginnis
4/18/2017 | 6:50 AM CDT
I agree Bonnie, but don't forget the golf course exemption, other then that, JAIL TIME for employers as well! Make Murica Great!
BDukowitz1375121425
4/17/2017 | 9:02 PM CDT
Legal is legal, illegal is illegal. What is the problem?