Hispanic milker.
October 16, 2018

Long-Standing Dairy Worker Program Gets Some National Love

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Puentes/Bridges, a program started more than 20 years ago that connects Midwest dairy farmers and the families of their Mexican-born workers, is getting a little love by the national media.


The article, “As Trump Demonizes Immigrants, These U.S. Farmers Are Having None of It,” features Wisconsin farmer John Rosenow and his Mexican worker Roberto Tecpile. Tecpile has been in the United States for almost 20 years and has worked for Rosenow for the past four years. Tecpile is Rosenow’s “go to” guy for fixing most things mechanical—anything from a lawnmower to a broken gauge.


Puentes/Bridges was started in the 1990s to connect farmers with the families of their foreign-born workers. The program teaches Spanish to Midwest farmers, and sends them to the Mexican towns where their workers are from. The farmers pay their own way, up to $2,000 each, for the weeklong trip.


The full immersion experience allows farmers to more fully appreciate their workers and the sacrifices they make for families by coming north to work. In turn, the Mexican families get to see the farm owners as human beings concerned about their workers welfare and not just as employers.


Another part of the program teams up the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire School of Nursing with several Wisconsin farms to provide on-farm health checks. The program, now in its seventh year, has identified some critical health issues in foreign-born dairy farm workers, such as diabetes and latent tuberculosis infections.


The article was written by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Read it here.

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