Puerto Ricans Could Ease South Dakota Dairy Labor Shortage
Unable to find enough workers to carry out the painstaking tasks of milk production, dairy producers in South Dakota hope to tap into a different labor force: unemployed residents of Puerto Rico.
It could be a tonic both for dairy operators and Puerto Rico, where the jobless rate stands at 12 percent but workers are far freer to travel to the U.S. for jobs than immigrants due to the island's status as a U.S. territory.
South Dakota dairy farms produced 209 million pounds of milk in 2016, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. That's far less than the more commonly known milk-producing states of California and Wisconsin, but the state's pilot project to find another labor source is gaining attention.
"If this is successful, this would be a significant success for the U.S. dairy industry, certainly South Dakota's industry," said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of the National Milk Producers Federation. "So, we are watching it. We are looking at what happens."
Read more at www.agweb.com.