Uniting Two Cultures: Latino Immigrants in the Wisconsin Dairy Industry (Working Paper #121)

Brent Eric Valentine

Abstract: Latino immigrants are increasingly working in industries that have not traditionally employed immigrant labor. Wisconsin’s dairy industry is a great example of this expansion in the employment of Latino immigrants. During the last decade dairy farmers have been turning to Latino immigrants to meet their labor demands. This research projects looks at the relationship that is developing between Latino immigrants and Wisconsin’s dairy industry. The project helps to bring to light some of the new challenges facing both employers and employees in this industry and region, while also highlighting several of the positive aspects of the relationship like employment stability, greater immigrant inclusion, and a sharing of cultures. Overall, the data collected demonstrates a tendency for long-term employment, which promotes greater rates of settlement among immigrants working in dairy. In return, immigrants working in dairy are increasingly bringing their spouses and children in order to take advantage of the year around employment provided by the dairy industry. By exploring themes related to immigrants’ employment in dairy, their interaction with the immigrant and native communities, and the employers’ perceptions of immigrant employees, this thesis demonstrates the long-term viability of Latino immigrants working on Wisconsin dairy farms.

Working Paper #121»