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Public Invited to Discussion of Use of Latino Labor
in Western Wisconsin Dairy Industry

RELEASED: March 29, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — "The Changing Face of Wisconsin Dairy," a presentation and discussion concerning Latino labor in rural western Wisconsin, will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in Room 281 of Phillips Science Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Featured in this Geography Seminar Series presentation will be John Rosenow, a successful and progressive western Wisconsin dairy farmer from Trempealeau County, and Shaun Duvall, the director of Puentes, a non-profit program based in Alma and founded to overcome obstacles and improve the integration of Latino migrants in the region's dairy sector through language classes, interpretation services and trips to Mexico. They will discuss western Wisconsin dairy's growing reliance on Latino employees and its significance and implications for Wisconsin's culture and economy.

Paul Kaldjian, assistant professor of geography, has been studying this topic with Lawrence Hoffman, a junior geography student and research assistant from Wausau. According to them, Wisconsin's sense of identity is strongly tied to its historically prominent, but shrinking dairy sector. Among other issues that affect growth in Wisconsin's dairy sector, is the inability of local communities to meet their labor needs. One increasingly popular response to this labor shortage is to hire Latino labor. While drawing upon migrant labor is nothing new in and of itself, Kaldjian said, the way in which the local milk producers are approaching this is rife with innovation.

"Initial observation of this labor supply and demand system suggests that it is a beneficial situation for all involved parties and is crucial to the viability of western Wisconsin's dairy economy," Kaldjian said. "But uncertainties remain regarding the future of this relationship as the United States struggles to resolve its immigration issues and policies."

This presentation and discussion is supported by the UW-Eau Claire department of geography. The public is invited to attend. Admission is free, along with parking on the south side of Phillips Hall; some metered parking around campus is also available. For more information, contact Kaldjian at (715) 836-2321 or kaldjian@uwec.edu.

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NW

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