Dairy Month celebrations and immigration audits underway

By Darren Turley, TAD executive director

Dairy Month is a time to celebrate dairy products and the nutritional value of milk all across the nation. It’s also a time to recognize dairy farm families who are working hard in the face, lately, of some workforce challenges, as I’ll discuss momentarily.

With dairy festivities in a number of counties across the state, many of you have a chance to get some much-needed recognition and a chance to tell your family farm’s story. TAD traditionally uses Dairy Month to tell the story of our dairy community to consumers, many of whom never get closer to a dairy farm than the milk section in their grocery store.

You can read our Dairy Month press release and op/ed column, which focuses on telling the story of how we care for our livestock, on our website.

In addition, TAD is sponsoring several dairy festivals and running our Dairy Month advertising in several newspapers that serve the dairy areas of our state.

In addition to Dairy Month, a number of other happenings should be of interest to Texas dairy farmers.

In recent months, we’ve seen a handful of immigration audits on Panhandle dairies by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During these audits, a review of I-9 forms revealed a high percentage of employees without matching Social Security numbers, meaning they were not legally authorized to work in the United Sates. The dairy farmer was then required to termininate employment of these workers.

It is too early to tell if these dairy owners will face federal fines. But losing a number of farm employees can be catastrophic for a modern dairy farm.

Please take the time to review your employee records and make sure they are in good standing since we do not know how, when or where ICE will conduct new audits.

The Texas Association of Dairymen and dairy cooperatives are working to alert legislators about the impact these immigration actions have on the business continuity and economic impact of our family farms in the Panhandle. That no employee with incorrect documentation has been deported or penalized shows that the only result is a catastrophic economic impact to specific dairies and, if these audits continue, the entire dairy community.

There is a true need to tell your story and celebrate the dairy impact in your community this year. Tell your story and celebrate dairy this month and every month.

The Texas Association of Dairymen raises a glass of milk to all of you this month!