Wisconsin Cheese Industry Wants Immigration Reform

Nov. 14, 2022
Residency for family members, path to permanent residency sought.

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) is calling for reform of U.S. immigration laws, with expanded opportunities for immigrant agricultural workers.

The WCMA issued a statement Nov. 9 asking for greater flexibility in workers who come to the U.S. on temporary agricultural worker visas, including an eventual path to permanent residency for some.

“The U.S. dairy industry employs three million people in America today, and a trained, reliable – and sizable – workforce remains essential to its strength,” WCMA executive director John Umhoefer said in a statement. “Dairy manufacturers and processors look to legislative leaders to work together to deliver immigration reforms to support business growth.”

Specific requests include:

  • The addition of dairy manufacturing, processing, and related supply chain jobs to the list of those eligible for an agricultural guestworker visa
  • The elimination of “touchback” provisions requiring agricultural guestworkers to return to their home country periodically
  • Temporary legal status for the spouses and minor children of non-seasonal agricultural guestworkers
  • An extension in the length of agricultural guestworker visa terms
  • An expansion of opportunities for agricultural guestworkers to gain permanent residency
  • At-will employment flexibility in an agricultural guestworker program, allowing workers accept any agricultural industry employment for the duration of their work authorization period.
About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.