South Dakota dairy operators want immigration reform

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – At the Turner County Dairy west of Sioux Falls, finding employees to milk 1,600 cows three times a day isn’t a problem. But dairy owners and industry advocates say if something doesn’t change with the country’s immigration policy and visa programs, America’s food production system will be in trouble.

Steve Bossman is manager of the Turner County Dairy. He oversees 34 employees. Most of the workers at the Turner County Dairy make $10 or $11 per hour, according to owners. They get health insurance after the standard 90 days, and in some cases, they receive assistance with housing.

Bossman said six or seven of his workers speak fluent English. To help translate for those who aren’t fluent, Bossman relies on a smartphone app. He can say what he needs to communicate, translate through the app and have his employees read the message.

“They do an absolutely marvelous job,” said Walt Bones, part owner of the Turner County Dairy and former South Dakota secretary of agriculture. He declined to identify the workers by name but allowed them to be photographed.

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