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Who Will Be Milking Your Cows in 2012?

Libby Eiholzer, Bilingual Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

Last Modified: June 5, 2013

Immigration policy reform may be old news to some, but as no new federal legislation has been passed, it continues to be a relevant topic to those involved in the agricultural industry. Since an estimated 70% of employees who perform labor intensive agricultural jobs nationwide are unauthorized, any changes to the current system could have far-reaching effects. In New York State the dairy, fruit and vegetable sectors would be the most influenced.

The Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885), a bill meant to make E-Verify usage compulsory, is an intensely debated piece of legislation. E-Verify is an internet-based system that allows employers to check the legal status of their employees. By comparing the information provided on the employee's Form I-9 with millions of government records, E-Verify provides almost instantaneous feedback as to whether or not the employee is eligible to work in the United States. The major concern for agricultural employers is that the bill will be passed without additional provisions to ensure the availability of an agricultural workforce. Although numerous guest worker proposals have been drafted, most only address ways for new immigrants to enter the U.S. legally; they do not propose a solution for employees who would be found unauthorized if E-Verify became mandatory. The big question is this: if a large portion of the current agricultural workforce were to be sent home today, would we be able to replace it with qualified workers quickly enough to avoid endangering the viability of our farm businesses?

There have always been risks involved in hiring immigrants, but although unemployment remains high, the pool of American applicants continues to be unenthusiastic about milking cows. So who can we expect to be milking our cows by the end of 2012? A recent publication from Cornell's School of Applied Economics and Management suggests that no drastic changes will be made this year (Maloney). With the presidential election in full swing, we will be hearing a lot about immigration. Yet it is unlikely that any changes will be made that meet the criteria set forth by agricultural employers. Federal-level E-Verify legislation is at a standstill and farm employers will continue opposing it unless a viable agricultural worker program is proposed. Immigration enforcement, especially through I-9 audits, is expected to continue. The best way to safeguard your current workforce is to prepare yourself for an I-9 audit. Take the time to make sure that your employee records are up to date and that you know how to answer any legal questions regarding immigrant workers. For more information on I-9 audits, visit this website: ICE

Maloney, Thomas R and Smith, Marc A. "Chapter 8: Decisions Facing New York State's Labor  Intensive Agriculture Sector". 2012 New York Economic Handbook. Charles H. Dyson

E-Verify. U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. 6/17/2011. E-Verify











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Dairy Cattle Summer Research Update

July 18, 2019
Batavia, NY

After the day's work is done, come hear about two new research trials conducted by Julio Giordano's lab:
  • Strategies for improving dairy cattle reproductive performance and economics
  • Using automated sensors for improving dairy cattle health monitoring and management

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Weed Resistance Management Demonstration and Plot Tour

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 23, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo, NY

Come join us on July 23 in Seneca County at Quinten Good's farm for a demonstration and walking tour of 16 different pre- and post-emergence treatments in soybean and 12 different treatments and combinations in corn.
  • Tall waterhemp and marestail are two weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicide modes of action in the WNY and Finger Lakes regions.
  • Each year the number of acres with resistant weed populations expands.
  • For herbicides to be an effective tool in weed management, we have to know what chemistries & application timings are most effective against these resistant weeds.

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Pasture Walk with the Finger Lakes Graziers

July 29, 2019
12:45 - 4 pm
Waterloo, NY

Join the Finger Lakes Graziers on a pasture walk and learn about soil health. 
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USDA Announces New Decision Tool for New Dairy Margin Coverage Program

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2019 ? Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today the availability of a new web-based tool - developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin - to help dairy producers evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized
DMC, a voluntary risk management program that offers financial protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. It replaces the program previously known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Sign up for this USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program opens on June 17.

"With sign-up for the
DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program," Secretary Perdue said. "Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry."

The University of Wisconsin launched the decision support tool in cooperation with FSA and funded through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. The tool was designed to help producers determine the level of coverage under a variety of conditions that will provide them with the strongest financial safety net. It allows farmers to simplify their coverage level selection by combining operation data and other key variables to calculate coverage needs based on price projections.

The decision tool assists producers with calculating total premiums costs and administrative fees associated with participation in
DMC. It also forecasts payments that will be made during the coverage year.

The new Dairy Margin Coverage program offers very appealing options for all dairy farmers to reduce their net income risk due to volatility in milk or feed prices," said Dr. Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Higher coverage levels, monthly payments, and more flexible production coverage options are especially helpful for the sizable majority of farms who can cover much of their milk production with the new five million pound maximum for Tier 1 premiums. This program deserves the careful consideration of all dairy farmers."

For more information, access the tool at For
DMC sign up, eligibility and related program information, visit or contact your local USDA Service Center. To locate your local FSA office, visit

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1