‘It’s five years since a white person applied’: the immigrant workforce milking America’s cows

‘It’s five years since a white person applied’: the immigrant workforce milking America’s cows

A growing Latino population is slowly shifting the demographics of US dairyland – and keeping the industry going

Products spring out from the walls of Veracruz Mexican market in Monroe, Wisconsin: packets of cinnamon sticks, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, tiny rainbow-colored sprinkles, chicle; a wall of healthcare like anxiety pills and vitamins for energy, and a shelf devoted entirely to various forms of muscle pain relief. A large meat case full of Mexican specialties, such as longaniza. Piñatas. Maíz. Jarritos. Chicharrones. And rosquillas, a treat in between a cracker and a cookie which is what newly arrived immigrants ask for most often, says Maribel Lobato. She and her husband Santos Tinoco have owned the store for 13 years in Monroe, a small city in Green county about 40 miles south of Madison.

The couple are often first contact for an increasing number of Latinos who immigrate to Monroe – which is 95% white – to work on dairy farms. “We can see the new faces because we know all the Latinos in Monroe,” says Lobato. She offers them donated furniture, clothes, a way to connect to home. An InterCambio Express telephone for sending money sits beneath an advertisement for a $19/hour job at a cheese factory, “but this place requires good papers”, customers in the store say in Spanish.

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