Workforce

The U.S. dairy industry supports nearly 3 million American jobs and generates more than $39 billion in direct wages. Yet it faces mounting challenges in attracting and retaining 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. Dairy’s unique labor needs require a federal solution to ensure a reliable workforce.

Our Position

IDFA believes a well-crafted agricultural guest-worker program is essential for an adequate and legal workforce, including non-seasonal, skilled immigrant workers. The program 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.

Status

IDFA supports the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act that was introduced in October 2019 by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and others in the House of Representatives. The bill would create a new year-round visa program to help address dairy's labor needs, representing a positive step forward for the industry.

The program would:

Deeper Dive

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

Next Steps

The U.S. dairy sector is well-positioned to meet growing nutritional needs around the world, and a reliable workforce supported by a strong guest-worker program will play a critical role in making this happen. IDFA will continue to coordinate with the dairy industry and advocate on Capitol Hill for an agriculture guest-worker program.  

For more information, contact Tony Eberhard, vice president, legislative affairs, at teberhard@idfa.org.

Staff Contact

Tony Eberhard

Vice President, Legislative Affairs