#Dairy-farm robots replace some workers on New York farms

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WASHINGTON – The long-standing paralysis in Congress over immigration reform has some dairy farmers opting to use robots to deal with a shortage of farm workers.Cornell University estimates about 30 dairy farms in New York are using European-manufactured robots to milk their herds.
The robots are widely used in Europe. The Netherlands alone has about 2,000 in operation, according to Thomas Maloney, who specializes in farm labor at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
“There are a lot of people who think we need 60,000 to 100,000 more cows in this state,” Maloney said. He said the two main options for addressing the labor issue that need causes are migrant workers and robotics.
Dairy farmers who have installed the robots predict their use will grow dramatically, especially in New York, where there’s increasing demand for milk among Greek yogurt processors.
“The bottom line is — all of this yogurt,” said George Haier, who recently installed a robotic milking machine on his dairy farm south of Buffalo in Eden.
Haier expects the machine will boost productivity enough to help him pay off his bank loan within 10 years.
It can cost up to $500,000 to install a single robotic milking machine. The price drops to about $200,000 per machine if at least four are installed.
Despite that high initial investment, many dairy farmers are expected to take the financial leap absent a solution to the farm worker problem.
The H2A visa program for temporary farm workers is bureaucratic and doesn’t cover dairy workers who are needed year round.
“If we got workable immigration reform, that would take most of the pressure off on the labor side,” Maloney said. He expects demand for automatic milking systems to increase if Congress moves slowly or there’s an impasse over farm guest workers.
Owners of large dairy farms say they rely on the local labor force to fill many jobs, but often need immigrants to fill entry-level positions that pay around $10 an hour. The federal crackdown on undocumented workers has made that increasingly difficult.
Source: Democrat and Chronicle

Mirá También

Así lo expresó Domingo Possetto, secretario de la seccional Rafaela, quien además, afirmó que a los productores «habitualmente los ignoran los gobiernos». Además, reconoció la labor de los empresarios de las firmas locales y aseguró que están «esperanzados» con la negociación entre SanCor y Adecoagro.

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