Idaho’s largest ag sector ‘disappointed’ by Crapo, Risch immigration votes

The Milk Producers of Idaho are lamenting that GOP Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch were among the nay votes in Thursday’s 68-32 passage of a comprehensive immigration reform.

“We are disappointed that Idaho’s two Senators chose to not join in the bipartisan effort to fix the current immigration system,” said MPI Director Brent Olmstead in a news release. “We have been and will continue to work with the Idaho delegation in the House to keep the current momentum on immigration reform going.”

Idaho’s dairy industry is valued at $2.5 billion, the largest agricultural sector in the state. Idaho produces more dairy products than all but two states, California and Wisconsin. Producers say about three-quarters of their workers are in the country illegally.

The release, issued late Thursday, follows:

 

PRESS RELEASE

Boise:  The members of the Milk Producers of Idaho are pleased by the large bipartisan vote margin (68-32) that the U.S. Senate passed the S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, or the Immigration Reform bill.

The passage of this legislation is a positive step toward assuring a legal and stable workforce for Idaho agriculture.

The legislation makes provisions for those experienced workers already in this country to earn legal residency by meeting certain listed requirements. It also creates a new agricultural visa program that will admit additional needed workers for Idaho’s agricultural community.

“Idaho agriculture in general and the Idaho dairy industry in particular have been struggling to find workers in the domestic market who are willing to perform the work needed to provide an abundant and safe food supply for our country” said MPI Director Brent Olmstead. “This legislation, should it become law, will greatly assist the largest industry in Idaho with the ability to grow and increase productivity.”

“We are disappointed that Idaho’s two Senators chose to not join in the bipartisan effort to fix the current immigration system.” Olmstead continued. “We have been and will continue to work with the Idaho delegation in the House to keep the current momentum on immigration reform going.”

“This will allow for a large segment of workers in Idaho to come out of the shadows” added MPI Chair Tena Petter. “There is no issue more important to the Idaho dairy industry than this legislation.

The legislation now goes before the House where it is expected to have a more difficult time effecting passage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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