Emma hosts Ruth Conniff, editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner, to discuss her recent book Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers. Emma also runs through recent news on Palin’s loss in Alaska’s special election (to Alaska’s first Native representative!), Mississippi legislators failing Jackson as it continues to go without running water, Israel’s crackdowns on allowing NGOs in Palestine, and Peter Theil and Mitch McConnell bicker over who has to fund their pasty white puppets, Vance and Masters. Ruth Conniff then joins as she dives into the genesis of her study of the agrarian ties between Wisconsin and Mexico, beginning with her move from the former to the latter in the wake of Trump’s election, only to discover countless Mexican families in Veracruz who – either themselves or their family members – had spent years on Wisconsin dairy farms. After situating the current state of undocumented labor in the Wisconsin dairy industry (approximately 80% of the labor!), Conniff and Emma explore how this came to be, with neoliberal policies like NAFTA bolstering the preexisting issue of mass-scale corporate farms overtaking family farms across North America, and particularly decimating the family agricultural industry in Mexico, forcing the workers up north to the US. With this migration, small-scale farmers in Wisconsin clamored to bring them in to help with their labor – a form of labor practically rejected by American citizens, and not covered by US Visas as it’s considered “low skill” – which brings Ruth to the story of how they found themselves oddly united against these global economic forces of corporatization. Next, Ruth and Emma tackle the contradictions of a state relying on undocumented labor when its representatives are some of the most vitriolic anti-immigrant candidates, resulting in hotbeds of ICE action endorsed by the state that actively oppresses those who make the local businesses function, before wrapping up with a conversation on the future of a path to citizenship that supports programs like DACA and more at-will migration, as well as more industry-specific work visas.
Check out Ruth’s book here: https://thenewpress.com/books/milked
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