NMPF has developed a three-point position on immigration policy, which is a front-burner issue currently on Capitol Hill.
Last December, the House of Representatives passed an extremely restrictive bill that would jeopardize the labor force used on many dairy farms, NMPF says. If this bill makes it through the Senate, it would threaten many employers with strict penalties, even if they were unaware that their employees' immigration documents were not genuine. The Senate is now working on drafting its own immigration reform legislation in the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn.
In order to make certain that any resulting policy doesn't disadvantage dairy producers, NMPF's Board of Directors approved a policy statement recently that lays out the key components that a congressional reform of U.S. immigration laws should contain. These include:
- An affordable & efficient guest-worker program that ensures the continued availability of immigrant labor for all of agriculture, including dairies;
- A provision that allows those currently employed or with recent employment history in the U.S. to earn the right to work here legally, regardless of their current legal status, and;
- A provision that specifies that the responsibility for ultimate verification of the legal status of a worker lies with the government, not with employers.
Dairy producers are urged to contact their members of Congress to stress the importance of these three provisions. NMPF has drafted an on-line letter on Dairy GREAT for farmers to send to their two senators.