Many dairy producers hire workers originating from Mexico and Central America and Dairy Profit Weekly editor, Dave Natzke, reported in Friday’s broadcast that it’s more important than ever that farmers determine whether those workers are here legally. The Department of Homeland Security has released a “Fact Sheet” outlining updated worksite enforcement guidance for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The “Fact Sheet” reflects a renewed focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, in order to target a root cause of illegal immigration. The memo notes that of the more than 6,000 arrests related to worksite enforcement in 2008, only 135 were employers.
In addition to immigrant identification, livestock identification is also on the minds of government officials, Natzke reported. The National Animal Identification System has been controversial since it was first unveiled years ago, Natzke said, and the debate over the voluntary versus mandatory registration of livestock premises and individual animals has increased recently.
U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has scheduled a series of listening sessions to gather public comment. The sessions begin May 14 in Pennsylvania and will be held in Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Connecticut, Colorado and the state of Washington over the next three weeks.
Meanwhile, the end of April and first days of May brought severe weather and moisture to much of the country, according to Natzke, but U.S. crop producers are making headway on the 2009 planting season.
As of May 3, about one-third of the nation’s expected corn acreage was planted, about 9 percent ahead of a year ago, but 17 percent behind the five-year average. Planting progress was highly variable, with Iowa producers ahead of normal, but neighboring Illinois was up to 3 weeks behind schedule. About 6 percent of the nation’s 2009 soybean acreage was planted, about even with a year ago, but 5 percent behind the 5-year average, Natzke concluded.