Wisconsin dairy farmers are worried about Donald Trump. It’s not his views of abortion that keep them up night or his stance on women.
Rather, they fear that Trump will deport illegal farm workers, thereby cutting off their labor source. This in turn could swing the dairy vote toTed Cruz .
Over 85,000 illegals and their families are living and working in Wisconsin, mostly “tending cows.” On Friday, after speaking to Wisconsin farmers at the 56th annual WPS Farm Show, a FOX Business reporter who was discussing their new poll showing Cruz ahead of Trump in the Badger State, nodded knowingly as he shared the top issue to Wisconsin dairy farmers is “immigrant labor.” Wisconsin is known for dairy products.
According to a 2015 report, erroneously based on losing “all immigrant labor,” not just illegal labor: “Retail milk prices … would increase 90 percent if all immigrant labor was lost. That would drive the supermarket price of a gallon of milk, which averaged $3.37 in June, to approximately $6.40.” But why would any farm lose “all immigrant labor” unless the farms only employ illegals?
In a recent CNN town hall, a Wisconsin dairy farmer pointedly made it known to Cruz that dairy farmers wanted a president who would keep his hands off their Latino work force. He pointedly asked Cruz, who has likened Trump’s vow for mass deportation to the creation of a police state, “What is the short-term solution to keep our current labor force intact?” Always a polished politician, Cruz avoided the subject of deportation and sympathetically pivoted from “American workers first” to the shared economic woes of farmers which could be solved by legal immigration policies and innovation.
Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including mass deportation, threaten the very foundation many successful dairy farms in Wisconsin have based their profit margins on — cheap and most likely illegal foreign labor. Wisconsin dairy farmers view Trump’s illegal immigration rhetoric as short-sighted, joining angry dairy farmers nationwide who grumble that Trump doesn’t realize that without the Latino labor there are no workers who would “milk cows twice a day, 365 days a year.”
There is no doubt that deporting the illegal work force would hit the dairy farmers hard. They look at Trump and see a president who would force big dairy farms to hire American and legal immigrant workers at American worker pay rates; they foresee health care increases and a lower bottom line.
They warn that that mass deportation would force the price of dairy products to go through the roof and farms to close down.
With the GOP establishment trying to break his winning streak, right wing talk radio blasting him, and Wisconsin farmers apt to vote their bottom dollar line, Donald Trump may lose Wisconsin to Ted Cruz. Ironically, if so, it may be over an issue that has Trump leading nationwide — illegal immigration.