Dairy farmers are milk people. And they are local.
So, President Donald Trump had it right when he referred to dairy farmers as “local milk people” during a Jan. 27 phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said two Valley dairymen. It doesn’t offend, they said.
“The fact that dairy farmers are on his mind is a good thing,” said Brian Medeiros of Medeiros & Son Dairy in Hanford, whose family has been in the dairy business for 24 years. In March, the company switched to growing just feed.
The fact that dairy farmers are on his mind is a good thing.
Brian Medeiros, Medeiros & Son Dairy
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When transcripts of the phone conversation were published Thursday by The Washington Post, Trump’s comment from a discussion with Turnbull about refugees went viral.
“I hate taking these people,” Trump said in the call. “I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.”
Memes and tweets were created with pictures of milk trucks and milkmen making deliveries. The hashtag #localmilkpeople was trending. Online milk jokes spread.
Trump is “familiar with what we do and such,” said Tom Barcellos of Barcellos Farms in Tipton. “We’re local. We’re vocal. We’ve got stuff to say.”
Social media likes to find a phrase and run with it, said Barcellos, whose Portuguese immigrant family started the dairy farm in 1940. What’s important is how the phrase is used or what the conversation is about, he said.
In this case, it was about refugees and immigration, which has been a hot topic for Valley farmers who depend on migrant workers. Barcellos said that he gets frustrated with some of Trump’s rhetoric about immigration reform.
There are hardworking people who deserve legal status to work, he said. There needs to be a farmworker program, similar to the H-2A program, that grants legal work status to those who are good, responsible citizens, Barcellos said. The problem with H-2A is that it provides legal work status only for up to a year and tends to be seasonal, while dairy workers work year-round, he said.