© 2024 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Agriculture Secretary Talks About Idaho Dairy Producers And Immigration Concerns

Matt Guilhem
Boise State Public Radio
File photo of undocumented workers at a dairy in southern Idaho.

During Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's visit to Idaho last week, the Trump administration official met with state leaders on a range of issues. He took a tour of the state Capitol in Boise alongside Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and met with dairy producers and other agriculture leaders.


Perdue told reporters later on Friday the question of what to do about undocumented workers who fill agriculture jobs across the country is something he has talked with President Trump about often.

Perdue recognizes the role undocumented immigrants play in Idaho’s ag sector. 

“Particularly dairy producers – [they] have year-round needs," he says. "And I hope to submit to the president a policy that he can feel good about, and the United States of America can feel good about. Because there are jobs out there that we cannot find American workers to fulfill.”

The former governor of Georgia has had experience on the topic: As the top executive of that state, he supported a crackdown on undocumented workers. The result? Jobs in Georgiapeach orchards went unfilled as growers struggled to find Americans who would do the hard manual labor.

Now on the national stage, Perdue says he’s hired a lawyer to look into the labor woes of farm owners – but didn’t go so far as to endorse a pathway to citizenship for those working illegally in Idaho’s potato fields and dairy farms.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.

You make stories like this possible.

The biggest portion of Boise State Public Radio's funding comes from readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

Your donation today helps make our local reporting free for our entire community.