Milked

Dairy Farms and the Mexican Workers at the Heart of an American Crisis

A compelling portrayal by the veteran journalist of the lives of farming communities on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border and the surprising connections between them

“Conniff brings her skills and insights to a particularly urgent project: moving beyond the polarizing politics of our current era, and taking a deeper look at how people who have been pitted against each other can forge bonds of understanding.” —E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist, The Washington Post

In the Midwest, Mexican workers have become critically important to the survival of rural areas and small towns—and to the individual farmers who rely on their work—with undocumented immigrants, mostly from Mexico, accounting for an estimated 80 percent of employees on the dairy farms of western Wisconsin.

In Milked, former editor-in-chief of The Progressive Ruth Conniff introduces us to the migrants who worked on these dairy farms, their employers, among them white voters who helped elect Donald Trump to office in 2016, and the surprising friendships that have formed between these two groups of people. These stories offer a rich and fascinating account of how two crises—the record-breaking rate of farm bankruptcies in the Upper Midwest, and the contentious politics around immigration—are changing the landscape of rural America.

A unique and fascinating exploration of rural farming communities, Milked sheds light on seismic shifts in policy on both sides of the border over recent decades, connecting issues of labor, immigration, race, food, economics, and U.S.-Mexico relations and revealing how two seemingly disparate groups of people have come to rely on each other, how they are subject to the same global economic forces, and how, ultimately, the bridges of understanding that they have built can lead us toward a more constructive politics and a better world.

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