Home 5 Ag Stories Dairy farmers stress need for immigration policy

Dairy farmers stress need for immigration policy

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig join Congressman David Young for a visit to Milk Unlimited Dairy Farm on the 2017 "Bringing the Harvest" tour. Photo by Anna Hastert.

 

A couple southwest Iowa dairy farmers ask an Iowa Congressman to help address labor shortages.

Kelly and Christy Cunningham, owners of Milk Unlimited Dairy Farm, stressed to Iowa Congressman David Young Friday the immediate need for immigration policy. The couple says the need for an immigration policy stems from inadequate labor.

“The last three months of labor has been the hardest,” Kelly Cunningham said. “No one comes walking in here to apply for a job. You put an ad in the paper, they come and see what we do – it’s dirty, smelly and we do it in the cold and the hot. We just don’t have labor.”

Milk Unlimited Dairy Farm currently employs six people with NAFTA Professional (TN) visas. The visa program provides Milk Unlimited with degreed individuals, who can perform various complex tasks.

“TN tends to work fairly well for us, as far as herd health, because those are degreed individuals we can bring in,” Christy Cunningham said. “It’s only good with Canada and Mexico. Those (individuals) can oversee employment support or herd health management issues, such as fresh cows in maternity breeding and feeding.”

Milk Unlimited previously tried to hire workers through the H-1B visa program. However, the government placed a cap on the program and receiving workers through the program is by “the luck of the draw,” according to Christy Cunningham.

Congressman Young provided some hope to the Cunninghams, after listening to their cries for help.

“There are new efforts in Congress to address this,” Congressman Young said. “A bill just went through Chairman Goodlatte’s committee, the judiciary committee in the House. That (bill) would address your issues, from what I understand, and a lot of issues of other people as well.”

Congressman Young visited Milk Unlimited during his annual “Bringing in the Harvest” tour. The tour offered Young insight on issues affecting Iowa’s farmers and agriculture economy.

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