March Board Meeting Highlights Farm-Labor Needs
March 31, 2020
In the final moments before coronavirus began to dominate American life, dairy farmers from National Milk Producers Federation member cooperatives and state dairy associations visited U.S. Senate offices as part of a fly-in calling for an agricultural labor bill that could be reconciled with a plan the House approved last year, providing the stable, secure labor force U.S. dairy producers need.
“The situation is dire,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, the biggest U.S. dairy-farmer organization, at the NMPF’s March board of directors meeting held March 10-11 in Arlington, Virginia, which immediately preceded the fly-in. “Dairy farmers face labor shortages while they are forced to navigate the deeply uncertain and volatile realities undergirding agriculture labor in the U.S. Meanwhile, uncertainty on the farm harms individuals and rural communities that rely on those farms to generate jobs.”
The House of Representatives in December passed bipartisan legislation allowing for year-round visas in dairy as part of the first ag-labor bill to pass that chamber since 1986. NMPF supported the bill, noting that, although imperfect, its passage was a necessary step in moving toward a legislative solution addressing the ag labor crisis, with further work to be done in the Senate to improve upon the House measure.
During the board meeting, NMPF officially expanded its membership with the addition of Cayuga Marketing, LLC based in Auburn, NY, adding an important upstate New York voice to NMPF’s work on behalf of all dairy producers.
NMPF also endorsed dairy-sector sustainability efforts during its meeting, lauding industrywide plans to reduce carbon emissions to net zero.