Seven U.S. Senators introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 on Thursday. National Milk Producers Federation endorses the reform package. NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak says a healthy U.S. dairy sector depends on a viable workforce – something current immigration policies struggle to provide. This package not only includes the dairy H-2A visa eligibility provision, the AgJobs proposal and the DREAM Act – but also incorporates a mandatory employment verification system and would require undocumented immigrants to register with the government, learn English and pay fines and taxes as of June 1st.

Kozak says dairy farms and other agricultural employers increasingly have been under the microscope for their employment practices. He says it’s critical that comprehensive immigration reform is passed into law before more employers are targeted by the enforcement agencies. Producers need a means to hire qualified foreign-born workers – Kozak says – to do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do. A U.S. dairy labor and hiring survey in 2009 found many farms depend on foreign workers – and the dairy sector would be crippled without access to immigrant workers.