How immigrant Latino workers are keeping America’s dairyland running

Small dairy farms are disappearing across the Midwest, resulting in larger “mega-dairies” that require round-the-clock milking, cow-feeding, and stall maintenance, reports The Guardian. These grueling and low-paying 12- to 16-hour shifts are largely staffed by immigrant Latino workers, many from Mexico, who now make up approximately 40 percent of the workforce on Wisconsin dairy farms, with one worker noting that “it’s been more than five years since a white person has even applied for a job” on his farm. Up to 90 percent of these workers are undocumented, according to UMOS, a multistate farmworker advocacy organization. Filling jobs rarely staffed by white Americans, this Latino workforce is keeping the nation’s dairy industry running while also changing the face of America’s dairyland. The shift toward industrial dairy farming is changing the demographics of small towns such as Monroe, Wisconsin, where many workers and their families are putting down roots.

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