By Fernando Diaz

The dependence of U.S. dairies on foreign labor is growing significantly. According to a survey published in 2014 by the National Milk Producers Federation, 51.2% of the 150,418 dairy employees were immigrants, and dairies that employ immigrant labor produced 79% of the U.S. milk supply. A similar survey published by National Milk in 2009 showed 62% of milk was produced by farms employing immigrant labor.

Researchers from Michigan State University evaluated potential barriers to employee management in dairy farms. The study included management teams of 12 dairies located in Michigan (size between 185 and 3,400 cows) and 75 English- and Spanish-speaking workers. The fi ndings, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, showed Spanish- peaking workers were less aware of the dairy performance goals, and they received less attention from managers and owners than English-speaking workers.

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