Dairy Operators Lobby Lawmakers

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(Modesto, CA)
Monday, November 21, 2005

Some reports estimate the shortage of farm workers is at least 40 thousand. Mark Aitken of the National Agricultural Statistical Service says California's labor situation is worse than in other areas of the country.

"Partially due to the increased security at the Mexican Border and also continued competition of the construction industry."

Workers say construction jobs pay at least double those on the farm.
Concerned about the shortage, a group of local dairymen went to Capitol Hill last week to explain to lawmakers that the labor shortage is making it difficult to maintain production levels. Michael Marsh of Western United Dairymen says they visited nearly 40 legislators and most were sympathetic. 

"Everyone understood the need for some type of reform. What that reform going to look like we don't know at this point, but everyone recognizes the need."

Marsh says since most of the laborers on dairy farms are from Mexico, he suggests the government figure out a way to allow workers to become U-S citizens or enable those with green cards to cross the border more easily.