Latino workers vital to Michigan’s dairy sector
Fruit and vegetable growers aren't the only segment of Michigan's vast agriculture industry clamoring for comprehensive, federal-level immigration reform. Dairy farming remains the single largest component of the state's expanding farm sector, and Hispanic workers have become integral to our milk industry.
Kerry Nobis manages a staff of 23 full-time workers year-round "on the cow side" of his family's 1,000-head dairy farm outside St. Johns in Clinton County. Currently his crew is more than half Hispanic.
"We have people who've milked cows for us over 10 years, and they just want to stay," Nobis said. "They're paid well and earn regular raises. They make enough that they've stayed here—it's a career—we pay our people well and provide them means for advancement."
From Nobis' perspective, it's the obligation of Americans to foster and encourage the work ethic that has forged every wave of immigrants into every next American generation for more than 200 years.
"I don't want to say Latinos are more ambitious than any other group, but right now I'll say they're certainly more conscious of the American dream, and it's fun and rewarding to be a part of that," he said. "They're living the American dream, and as Americans we should facilitate that—we should be proud of that."