There's a Minnesota connection with the Green Bay-based American Dairy Coalition (ADC), which Politico's Agriculture morning email newsletter reports is seeking to establish state-sponsored visas for immigrant workers:
While farmworkers and farmers across the country grow more nervous over the raids conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office since Trump took office, the American Dairy Coalition is advocating for a new approach to immigration reform: state-sponsored visas. "The federal government has consistently shown itself incapable of predicting the labor needs of the states, and states have more local knowledge of the types of workers and immigrants that they need," says the coalition, which formed in 2015 and is based in Green Bay, Wis.
The program suggested by ADC would require states to petition the federal government, which would continue to be responsible for issuing visas and conducting related background checks and interviews. "Each state would be guaranteed 2,500 visas, and a share of a pool of 125,000 visas (another 2,500 per state) based on the population of the state," ADC says. Similar programs are used in Canada, Germany and Australia, it notes.
Perishable News reported in American Dairy Coalition Completes Leadership Team With Additional Board Members that Jans had joined the ADC board in the role of Secretary:
Greg Jans, Partner of Co-Jo Dairy. Jans operates a 1000 cow dairy operation in Minnesota. Jans understands first hand the struggles today’s dairy farmers face and is excited to represent the first national dairy producer coalition to help build a fruitful future for the industry. Jans is committed to supporting use of peer reviewed scientific safe technology to produce nutritious, affordable dairy products to feed the world’s growing population.
Jan recently retired from the board of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, according to its January 2017 Insider newsletter:
Second, we lost our longest-serving board member, with Greg Jans, Grove City, stepping down. Like Pat, Greg is retired from the board by choice after leading our Policy Committee for the past 12 years. It will be hard imagining a board meeting without Greg, but both of these gentlemen identified now as the time to find a new crop of leaders for Minnesota Milk.
Dairy and Undocumented worker issues in Minnesota
The visas weren't on the list of seven legislative priorities for Minnesota Milk listed in 2017 Legislative Session: What We’re Following, an article by the group's contract lobbyist, Ag Mafia member Daryn McBeth on page 6 of the newsletter, although one was related to immigrant workers: "Driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrant workers[.]"
Driver's licenses for undocumented workers has emerged as a point in the debate over Senate and House versions of the Real ID bill that would bring Minnesota's licenses into compliance with federal law. The Grand Forks Herald is urging passage of the Senate version of the bill; Senator Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, discussed the legislation in a column Sunday, What you need to know about Real ID. The House version, which is seen to offer a barrier to undocumented workers, is scheduled for a House floor vote on Thursday, according to the current version of the Minnesota House Television schedule.
We'll see how this vote and the inevitable conference report shakes out. A source in the Ag Mafia tells us that some Minnesota farmers are deeply concerned about worker shortages and national immigration politics, an ironic note given the whining by rural Republican lawmakers about high unemployment in some counties in greater Minnesota--and the eagerness of some who wish to pay ag sector and green card workers less for minimum wage and overtime.
Photo: Greg Jans (left) at Co-Jo Dairy in 2013.
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