The U.S. dairy industry supports more than 3 million American jobs that generate $42 billion in direct wages. Yet it faces mounting challenges in securing an adequate workforce to run the farms and manufacturing operations year-round. With perishable milk and dairy products, labor shortages aren’t just an inconvenience; they’re a threat to business viability and to our nation’s food and national security.

Dairy’s unique labor needs require a federal solution to ensure a reliable workforce, as well as an industry-wide effort to attract and retain our workforce of the future. That’s where IDFA comes in. Our staff in Washington, D.C., are working with congressional champions to pass bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform. In recent years, we’ve joined with partners in the food, agriculture, and business coalitions focused on passing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act – commonsense, bipartisan legislation to provide for an agricultural guest-worker program that works for American food producers and processors. Read more about this effort here, and join IDFA in advocating for passage of this important Act on the IDFA Campaign Center.

IDFA has also been working through its signature People Strategy programs like the HR Leaders in Dairy and The Power of People conference to provide dairy businesses with the tools and best practices needed to attract and retain the workforce of the future. Learn more about these efforts below.

Virtual Press Briefing on Need to Pass Farm Workforce Modernization Act - December 7, 2022

Policy Solution: Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Please consider taking two minutes to support IDFA's advocacy by emailing your members of Congress on the IDFA Campaign Center.

IDFA believes a well-crafted agricultural guest-worker program is an essential piece of an adequate and legal workforce, including non-seasonal, skilled immigrant workers. The legislation must cover dairy manufacturing jobs and allow longer-term visas in recognition of the industry’s significant investment of time and money for training employees. Read IDFA's immigration policy here.

While comprehensive currently remains elusive, the U.S. House of Representatives has twice passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The program would:

What the current version of the legislation is missing is inclusion of dairy manufacturing jobs. IDFA is currently working with U.S. Senators to include dairy processing jobs in its version of the bill, and we're encouraging all members of Congress to support the legislation when it is brought to the U.S. House and Senate floors for a vote.

Please consider taking two minutes to support IDFA's advocacy by emailing your members of Congress on the IDFA Campaign Center.

Workforce Deep Dive

From worker shortages to wage pressures, employers across the country are facing labor challenges – and the agricultural industry is no exception. On a recent episode of The Dairy Download, we speak with two guests on the forefront of today’s workforce struggles.

IDFA Policy

IDFA supports a federal guest-worker program with the following criteria:  

Immigration Task Force

IDFA's Immigration Task Force develops policy recommendations to address worker availability issues and analyze immigration legislation affecting the dairy processing industry. IDFA Members interested in joining the committee should reach out to Donald Grady at, and Cindy Cavallo at

For more information on IDFA advocacy related to workforce issues, contact Donald Grady, IDFA director, legislative affairs, at

Donald Grady

Senior Director, Legislative Affairs

Promoting Best People Practices

IDFA is committed to working with our members and the broader dairy industry to address one of our most critical resources—our people. Through our People Strategy, IDFA is working to develop the workforce of the future, cultivate the next generation of leaders, and empower and support diversity in leadership roles.

IDFA in the summer of 2020 created the HR Leaders in Dairy group to convene our industry's top human resource leaders to exchange freely and openly on important topics related to engaging and developing the dairy workforce of the future. HR Leaders in dairy convenes virtual and in-person gatherings, networking opportunities, webinars and other learning and sharing experiences for its members.

Careers in Dairy Video Series

IDFA in 2022 produced a video series for dairy businesses to utilize in the recruitment of employees for a wide variety of fields, including trucking and transportation, warehouse, research and development, quality assurance, and much more! Download the videos via the link below.

For more information on the IDFA People Strategy, please contact Becky Rasdall at

Becky Rasdall

Senior Vice President, Trade and Workforce Policy