Milked: A Reading by Ruth Conniff

October 8, 2023

1:00 pm – 2:15 pm


Witwen Park - Tabernacle
S9855 County Rd E
Sauk City, WI 53583
Free and open to the public, registration encouraged

Ruth Conniff, journalist & editor of the Wisconsin Examiner, will read from Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers, followed by discussion with Puentes/Bridges, an organization based in Buffalo County, WI that works to build bridges between the community that immigrates to work here and our rural and farming community.

In Milked, Conniff introduces us to the surprising friendships that have formed between two groups: migrants who work on Midwestern dairy farms and their employers. Their 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.

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner and editor-at-large for the Progressive Magazine, where she previously served as Editor-in-chief. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Her book "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel Award from The New Press.

Mercedes Falk is the current director of Puentes/Bridges. She works with dairy farmers and their employees from Mexico to help them understand each other better. In addition to interpreting on dairy farms in Western Wisconsin and Southeastern Minnesota, she leads trips to Mexico where dairy farmers have an opportunity to meet the families of their employees and increase their cultural understanding.

John Rosenow operates a 600-cow dairy farm and a composting business that sells and distributes organic compost near Waumandee, Wisconsin, with his wife, Nettie and 20 employees. He is a cofounder of Puentes/Bridges and his advocacy work has been featured on the PBS NewsHour, NPR Marketplace, and the BBC, among others. As an employer, John has discovered the importance of understanding cultures that differ from ours and has implemented many strategies that complement that difference to achieve success as a business.

Roberto Tecpile was born in the Mexican state of Veracruz. He came to the United States when he was 18 to help provide a better life for his family. He has worked in several different states since then and in a variety of jobs before landing on dairy farms in Wisconsin, where he has worked for the last ten years. He has spoken about his experiences at the University of Minnesota, UW-River Falls, UW-Eau Claire, local libraries, and several other community groups.