Vermont Discusses Concerns About Immigrant Farmworkers
Vermont agriculture officials are discussing how to replace immigrant farmworkers, who are key to the success of the state's dairy industry, should they be targeted under the Trump administration's immigrant policy.
The state has about 1,000 Latino farm workers who are working or seeking work, and many are likely living in the country illegally, said Erin Shea, migrant education program director for the University of Vermont Extension Service.
Top agriculture officials met with UVM extension and other dairy industry representatives Thursday to discuss possible emergency workforce plans if those workers were deported.
The proposals include training inmates to do the work, employing temporary workers or refugees and attempting to use foreign workers through a seasonal visa program.
"This is just the what-if exercise. What if something was to happen," said Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. "Right now, everything's perfectly fine — nothing going on — but we just want to be a little bit proactive because it will become something we need to pull together quickly if it does happen."
An estimated 177 of the state's 818 dairy farms use Latino workers, according to UVM extension, which estimates that about 660 immigrant workers are employed, working 60 to 70 hours a week.
Read more at www.agweb.com.